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Botswana pulls off all-round incident free general election


Botswana’s President Mokgweetsi Masisi retained his job after his ruling party easily won enough parliament seats in this week’s election, authorities announced Friday.

The ruling Botswana Democratic Party won 38 of the 57 seats in the National Assembly, while the opposition coalition Umbrella for Democratic Change won 15.

Unlike the over dozen elections that has been undertaken this year, the Botswana polls have been described as largely incident-free from the campaigning through to voting and the aftermath.

No major issues of violence or clashes were recorded in the lead up to the October 24 vote. The voting process was largely peaceful and organized and the results declaration has not elicited any challenge – as yet.

Same cannot be said of Nigeria and South Africa’s polls where campaigning was marred by violence as well as significant incidents on day of voting and court challenges.

South Africa’s results was threatened with a challenge arising from reports of irregularities during the voting process. Malawi grappled with a stiff court challenge and chaotic exchanges between opposition and security forces.

Mozambique’s vote also in October has been the subject of repeated calls for annulment especially by the opposition again citing cases of irregularities and massive fraud.

The long peaceful, diamond-rich southern African nation had expected its tightest election in history after former President Ian Khama broke away and announced his support for the opposition coalition instead.

Khama hand-picked Masisi as his successor when he stepped down last year after two terms but was annoyed when Masisi moved away from some of his policies and began to crack down on corruption.

Many had wondered whether the ruling party would be toppled for the first time since independence in 1966.

But one political analyst said the ruling party benefited from sympathy votes especially in urban areas like the capital, Gaborone, where many people believed Khama wanted to perpetuate his hold on power.

“There was a feeling Masisi was not being given room to be his own man,” Alvin Yalala said. “There were also many people who would ordinarily vote opposition who supported Masisi to snub Khama, who is not popular among the middle class.”

Another reason for the ruling party’s win was that some voters saw the opposition coalition’s alignment with Khama as a betrayal of principle, Yalala said. “They wanted opposition as an alternative and not as an appendage of the former president.”

Observers said Wednesday’s election went smoothly in one of Africa’s most stable countries. Turnout was not immediately clear. Botswana has 925,000 registered voters in a population of 2.2 million.


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