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Botswana’s Khama, newly reelected, faces showdown over succession


In Botswana, diamonds may not be forever, but its newly reelected president Ian Khama may hope that the Khama family is nonetheless forever– and he is facing severe parliamentary and judicial pushback.botswana-flag

Fresh off an election campaign that was fiercely contested, at least by the standards of south-central Africa, Khama is already making waves by attempting to install his brother Tshekedi Khama as vice president, clearing the way for him to win the presidency in 2018, when the term-limited incumbent will not be able to run.

Khama’s Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), has controlled the country since its independence in 1966, and his father, Seretse Khama, founded the BDP in 1961 and served as Botswana’s first president until his death in 1980. Khama, who served as vice president between 1998 and 2008, when former president Festus Mogae stepped down, comes from a powerful royal family among the Twsana ethnic group, to which 80% of Botswana’s population belongs.

botswana map

By just about every standard, Botswana — a country of just over 2 million people — is one of sub-Saharan Africa’s success stories. It’s a country where elections are generally free and fair, and where good governance is a reality, not just an aspiration.

The BDP, for the first time since independence, won less than 50% of the vote, for example, in the most recent October 24 general election, though it continues to hold a governing majority in the 63-member National Assembly:


The BDP won 37 seats, on the basis of 46.5% of the vote, boosted mainly by its longtime supporters across rural Botswana. Its chief opposition, the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), a coalition of different parties united under the leadership of human rights attorney Duma Boko, won 17 seats on the strength of 30.0% of the vote, chiefly from disenchanted urban voters in the capital city of Gaborone. A third party, the social democratic Botswana Congress Party (BCP), won another 20.4% of the vote and three seats.

But the election may pale in comparison with the fight that now appears underway between Khama and Botswana’s parliament, including many members of Khama’s own governing party, which is divided into a Khama-led faction and a more independent faction pushing for greater constitutional reforms.  Continue reading Botswana’s Khama, newly reelected, faces showdown over succession