Namibia Defence Force
On 21 March Namibia celebrated the country’s 20th Independen-ce Anniversary with style, pomp and flair. The red carpet was rolled out for the VIP’s, while Windhoek was filled with floats driving through the streets of Khomasdal, Katutura, mid-town and the CBD. And the Namibian Defence Force displayed its firepower on Independence Avenue with one of the biggest military displays yet seen so far.
Namibia’s greatest achievement of the past 20 years is peace, according to Martti Ahtisaari, overseer of the country’s final steps to Independence as the United Nations’ Special Representative and as chief of the United Nations Transition Assistance Group (UNTAG) in 1989-1990.
Ahtisaari, who attended the Independence celebrations at the invitation of President Hifikepunye Pohamba, told the media “the fact that Namibia is a peaceful as it has been” is remarkable. “It is not easy for any country to come out of such a long phase of a liberation struggle and build peace”, the former UNTAG chief said.
Commenting of Namibia’s progress since Independence, Ahtisaari said Namibia “has done well.” The country fares well in international and regional benchmarks like the Mo Ibrahim Index and the United Nations Development Index. “I have no problem with President Hifikepunye Pohamba’s priorities,” he said.
“Of course that doesn’t mean that there aren’t problems,” he added, referring to high unemployment, HIV prevalence and income differentiations.
Youth unemployment he said, is a global crisis which is anticipated to reach epic proportions within the next 10-15 years with around 1.2 billion youths estimated to be unemployed.
The veteran diplomat and recipient of the 2008 Nobel Peace Prize said he is rallying international communities to pay more attention to this growing problem.
“Any government must candidly recognize what must be done to deal with its priorities,” said Ahtisaari.
The UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon congratulated President Pohamba on his re-election, and pledged the UN’s continued support.
“Twenty years ago today, the United Nations concluded its most historic mission in Namibia. Today, Namibia contributes its own experts, troops and police to a half dozen United Nations missions around the world. Then, Namibia was a promise kept. Now, Namibia is a shining example of progress. I am confident that Namibia will continue to inspire the world even more,” the UN Secretary-General said.
The UN Department of Public Information is represented in Namibia by the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) in Windhoek.