Namibian President Hage Geingob dies in hospital at 82


Hage Geingob, Namibia’s founding president and prime minister, died Sunday at the age of 82 while receiving treatment for cancer, and the southern African country quickly appointed his deputy to complete the remainder of its mandate.

Geingob played a central role in what became one of Africa’s most stable democracies after returning from long exile in Botswana and the United States as an anti-apartheid activist. He was the country’s third president since its independence in 1990, after more than a century of German and then apartheid South African rule.

He had been president since 2015 and is expected to complete his second and final term this year. His deputy, Vice President Nangolo Mbumba, was sworn in as interim president in the capital, Windhoek, to complete his term as permitted by the constitution.

Elections are scheduled for November. A government statement said Mbumba will rule Namibia until March 21 next year, when the winner takes office.

Recently received “new” treatment in the United States

The presidential office said Geingob died in a hospital in the capital, with his family by his side. He returned to Namibia last month from the United States, where he underwent a two-day trial of a “new treatment for cancer cells,” according to his office. In 2014, he declared that he had survived prostate cancer.

Both gentle and determined to advance Africa’s agenda as an important player in world affairs, Geingob maintained close relations with the United States and other Western countries but also, like many African leaders, forged a warm relationship with China and other powers.

Russian President Vladimir Putin was among the leaders who sent condolences on Sunday, saying he would “cherish forever” his memories of meeting Geingob. “It is difficult to overestimate his personal contribution to the development of friendly relations between Namibia and Russia,” a statement said.

Namibia, which has a population of just over 2.5 million, is rich in minerals such as diamonds, gold and uranium. Although it is classified as an upper-middle-income country, socio-economic inequalities are still widespread, according to the World Bank.

The country on Africa’s southwest coast enjoys political and economic stability in a region that has long seen conflict and contested elections. Namibia’s opposition criticized Geingob last year for supporting disputed elections in Zimbabwe.

Tributes from African leaders

Geingob was the first Prime Minister of Namibia from 1990 to 2002 and held the same position from 2008 to 2012.

Condolences poured in from African leaders on Sunday.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa described Geingob as “a veteran of Namibia’s liberation from colonialism and apartheid.”

Kenyan President William Ruto said Geingob “strongly promoted the continent’s voice and visibility on the global stage.”

Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa said on X that Geingob’s “leadership and resilience will be remembered.”

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