Botswana President Ian Khama wins second term

2014-10-26 12:50

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Gaborone – Botswana President Ian Khama saw off the biggest challenge posed by the opposition since independence, winning a second term in power today as his ruling party secured a majority at the polls.

Khama “has been re-elected as the President of the Republic”, said High Court Chief Justice Maruping Dibotelo, after his party, the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), garnered at least 34 of the 57 parliamentary seats.

With tallying still ongoing for seven seats, it is unclear if the ruling party will match its previous election result of 41 seats.

An opposition coalition called the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) has meanwhile won 14 seats, while another opposition group, Botswana Congress Party, has secured two.

Khama (61) who is the son of the country’s first president, Seretse Khama, will be inaugurated tomorrow.

Friday’s general elections had been billed as the most challenging for the ruling party, which has governed the diamond-rich, sparsely populated country bordering South Africa since it gained independence from Britain in 1966.

Opposition parties had in particular made inroads in urban areas, following the formation in 2010 of a breakaway party, the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD).

The BMD is now part of the UDC coalition, led by Duma Boko, which has won seats in districts which were once strongholds of the ruling party, including in capital Gaborone.

Although seen as one of Africa’s success stories, Botswana has recorded rising unemployment since 2009 as the global economic crisis sent diamond prices falling.

The dropping diamond revenues had in turn forced Khama’s government to halt planned investments in recent years.

During the election campaign, Khama admitted the failure of his government to stop unemployment rates from rising.

Among key challenges that he faces is the task of diversifying the country’s economy.

International observers were satisfied that the polls had been free, although questions were raised over election funding and the poor representation of female candidates in the party lists.

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