Botswana: President Ian Khama's BDP wins election

President Ian Khama's BDP party has ruled Botswana since independence from Britain in 1966. (Pako Lesejane)

President Ian Khama's BDP party has ruled Botswana since independence from Britain in 1966. (Pako Lesejane)

Botswana’s ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) has secured 33 of 57 Parliament seats in national elections, initial results showed, putting President Ian Khama at the helm for a second five-year term.

Residents, who voted on Friday, re-elected the BDP party that has ruled the diamond-producing country since independence from Britain 48 years ago.

Provisional results show that the BDP’s main rival, the Umbrella for Democratic Change, won 14 seats and the Botswana Congress Party took two seats.

Eight seats were yet to be declared. This will be Botswana’s most closely contested election and is likely to see the BDP’s majority sharply reduced from the 79% of seats it won in the 2009 election.

Khama’s party still enjoys the support of a generation of voters won over with high spending on education and welfare benefits. But there is growing discontent among younger voters and the urban middle class, who say change is due after nearly five decades of BDP rule.

Although Botswana is often seen as one of Africa’s most stable and democratic nations, economic growth has slowed as demand for diamonds decreases, and unemployment is at about 20%.

Khama has drawn criticism for forcefully evicted the Bushmen from their traditional hunting grounds in the Kalahari Desert and for introducing an unpopular 50% tax on alcohol.

The 61-year-old president has said only the BDP is competent enough to rule, and pledged to create jobs and improve water and electricity supply if given another term in office.

Last week, Botswana’s sole power station broke down, forcing it to rely on electricity from South Africa. – Reuters



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