Botswana ruling party wins the general election

The ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) has won the general election after securing 29 national assembly seats, representing 51 percent of the vote, the chief justice announced on Friday.

Botswana voted on Wednesday to elect 57 national assembly and 490 local government representatives, with the candidate of the winning party set to become president.

The main opposition, the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), secured 13 seats while the Botswana Patriotic Front won three and the Alliance for Progressive only one, with 73 percent of the voting districts counted so far.

The BDP will now have to move swiftly to transform the economy. Since independence from Britain in 1966, the Botswana economy has grown at 8 percent a year to become one of Africas most successful, but it is now at risk of coming unstuck because of over-reliance on a single commodity – diamonds.

“Although vote counting is still ongoing, the numbers of parliament seats attained so far by the BDP obliges me to declare Mokgweetsi Masisi as the elected president of Botswana,” said Chief Justice Terrence Rannowane.

President Masisi campaigned on his record on tackling corruption, such as making a declaration of assets obligatory for public sector officials. He has also overseen a sharp reduction in bureaucracy for small businesses.

“We are going to … tackle the challenges the country is facing … improving the value chain of our national products, whether its in tourism or minerals,” Masisi said after voting on Wednesday in his home village of Moshupa.

“This will help us achieve our goal of migrating towards a high-income country.”

Masisi, 58, had been presented with a surprising challenge after former President Ian Khama broke away and announced his support for the opposition coalition UDC.

Khama stormed out of the BDP in May after accusing Masisi – his deputy until last year – of autocracy.

Khama hand-picked Masisi as his successor when he stepped down last year following two terms in office in the diamond-rich country. But Masisi moved away from some of Khamas policies, including by loosening restrictions on elephant hunting to appeal to rural voters.

About 931,000 of the countrys 2.2 million people registered to vote in the parliamentary and local elections.


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