President Hage G. Geingob of Namibia, a prominent figure in a struggle for independence from apartheid-era South Africa who later became the country’s first prime minister and a long-serving head of state, died early Sunday. He was 82.

The presidential office announced his death in a statement on social media that was attributed to Vice President Nangolo Mbumba, now the acting president.

Mr. Geingob, who took office in 2015 and had been receiving treatment for cancer in recent weeks, died at a hospital in the capital, Windhoek, just after midnight, the statement said.

He was Namibia’s first prime minister from 1990, the year that the country gained independence, until 2002. He served again in that role 10 years later, before being elected president.

Mr. Geingob was born on Aug. 3, 1941, in the city of Otjiwarongo, in what was then the South African territory of South-West Africa.

Starting in his 20s, from exile first in Botswana and then in the United States, he was a leader in the South West Africa People’s Organization, a group that fought for Namibian independence and would later become the country’s ruling political party.

While in the United States, he studied at Fordham University in New York City, and then obtained a master’s degree in international relations at The New School, also in New York.

After independence, Mr. Geingob helped steer the country out of the apartheid era. Among other tasks, he oversaw the drafting of the country’s new Constitution as the chairman of the Constituent Assembly.

“I knew well, as did the rest of the SWAPO leadership, that the Namibian society was divided because of years of apartheid and racial stratification in the provision of services and opportunities,” he later wrote of the drafting process. Therefore, he went on, “the first job for me was to promote a spirit of consultation, mutual respect and reconciliation.”

After serving as prime minister twice, Mr. Geingob was elected president in 2014. He was re-elected in 2019 and was serving his second term when he died.

Namibia is to hold its next election later this year, and Mr. Geingob’s governing SWAPO party has chosen Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah as its prime minister candidate. If elected, she would be the country’s first female president.

Mr. Geingob is survived by his wife and children, the presidential office said in its statement.





Source link