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Nujoma named president by Namibian legislature

Sam Nujoma, a former guerrilla leader who spent 30 years in exile, waselected Namibia's first president Friday and will take office after

independence from South Africa on March 21.

Nujoma is president of the South West Africa People's Organization (SWAPO), which waged a 23-year war against South African rule.

SWAPO won a U.N.-supervised election in November, paving the way to independence. Namibia, a German colony until 1915, exports large quantities of copper, lead, diamonds and other minerals.

The 72-member Constituent Assembly, which has a SWAPO majority, gave Nujoma a standing ovation after all votes were cast in favor of Nujoma, who returned home from exile last year to seek election.

"I will try my utmost to uphold the constitution of the Republic of Namibia," he said after the assembly vote.

"I want to execute my duties within the spirit of national reconciliation, unity, peace and stability in Namibia," said Nujoma, whose party has shed much of its Marxist ideology since winning the election.