WINDHOEK, Namibia — Sam Nujoma, leader of the SWAPO guerrilla movement, received a hero's welcome today as he ended 30 years in exile to compete for political power in soon-to-be-independent Namibia.
Tight security measures were in force because of threats on Nujoma's life and the assassination Tuesday of Anton Lubowski, the only white with a leadership post in the South-West Africa People's Organization.
Earlier today, police announced the arrest of a suspect in the assassination of Lubowski. Police Inspector Kierie du Rand said the suspect was a 50-year-old white man with an Irish passport, arrested in Windhoek on Wednesday. He reportedly came to Namibia from Cape Town, South Africa.
'Spirit of Peace'
"We return in the spirit of peace, love and national reconciliation," Nujoma told a news conference at his new home in Katatura, the black township on the outskirts of Windhoek.
"No words may express my happiness at joining my family, friends and comrades," he said. "The years spent abroad have at times been characterized by loneliness. At other times there was great happiness when we achieved successes. We never lost sight of our principal objective--freedom and independence for Namibia."
The 60-year-old nationalist kissed the Tarmac at Windhoek's airport, embraced SWAPO colleagues and his 89-year-old mother.
Thousands of cheering supporters, kept out of the terminal by police, gathered at the airport gates to greet Nujoma, who reached out of the car, waving and shaking hands. Most wore the red, blue and green colors of the independence movement.
Black trade unions urged their members to skip work in order to join in welcoming Nujoma, who arrived aboard an Ethiopian Airlines jet after a flight from Luanda, Angola.