Claims and counter-claims of intimidation have tarnished Namibia's polling campaign a week before the country goes to the polls in the second general elections since independence.

The country's newest political party, the Congress of Democrats (CoD), is the latest to join the list of those crying foul, this week accusing the ruling South West Africa People's Organisation (Swapo) of sabotaging its election campaign in the north of the country.

The 850 000-strong electorate is due to go to the polls on November 30 and December 1, the second general election since the semi-desert southwestern African country attained its independence from South Africa in 1990.

President Sam Nujoma, 70, is expected to secure a third term of office and his Swapo is certain to retain the large majority it won in the Assembly in pre-independence elections as well as in the 1994 poll.

The CoD, launched in March by Ben Ulenga, former government member and Namibia's high commissioner in London, said it was forced to cancel rallies in the northern regions of Omusati, Oshana, Ohangwena and Otjikoto - all Swapo strongholds - due to disruption by Swapo supporters.

"They (Swapo supporters) go to the venue the day before and remove our posters and hoist their flag," said CoD spokesperson Elizabeth Amukugo.

"They organise schoolchildren to disturb our meetings with shouting and chanting," Amukugo said.

The CoD has lodged three complaints with the Electoral Commission, which says it is still investigating several other reports of intimidation lodged by different parties.

Amukugo, citing an incident in which a CoD supporter was hit by a brick thrown by a Swapo rival, expressed concern that the intimidation was now becoming "physical".

Swapo has denied it is disrupting CoD meetings and has in turn alleged that CoD supporters are intimidating its own members.

European Union officials, 28 of whom will observe next week's election, have confirmed that several incidents of intimidation have been reported to them, but said they have not personally witnessed any incidents.

"At this time we cannot be over concerned," said Finnish EU observer Pekka Peltola. "In elections there is sometimes an invisible line between colourful campaigning and intimidation."

Eight parties have registered to contest the legislative elections, but the main question is whether Swapo can retain its majority of two-thirds of the seats in the National Assembly.

President Nujoma, who in the 1994 election secured 74 percent of the vote, is being opposed by three candidates: Ben Ulenga of the CoD, Katuutire Kaura of the Democratic Turnhalle Alliance, and Justus Garoeb of the United Democratic Front.

Officials of the Southern African Development Community and the Commonwealth will join the EU in observing the election. - Sapa-AFP