Botswana Ruling Party Extends 43-Year Grip on Power

Botswana’s ruling party extended its 43-year rule of the world’s biggest diamond-producing nation after winning more than half of the seats in parliament, official results showed.

The Botswana Democratic Party won 33 seats in the country’s 57-seat parliament, according to results collated by the Independent Electoral Commission today in Gaborone, the capital. The opposition Botswana National Front obtained three seats and the Botswana Congress Party two, it said. Results from the remaining 19 constituencies have yet to be announced by the commission.

“The Botswana Democratic Party has attained at least 29 parliamentary seats, the minimum required to get a further five- year mandate to run the government of Botswana,” the party said in a statement on its Web site. It didn’t provide further details.

The BDP has ruled Botswana since the southern African nation gained independence from Britain in 1966. Its victory means President Ian Khama, 56, will automatically retain the post. The commission will make an official announcement on the results tomorrow, Osupile Maroba, a spokesman for the commission, said in an interview.

Final results were delayed by the higher number of ballots that had to be counted because of increased participation in the election, Maroba said. In addition, some polling stations remained open after the official close at 7 p.m. to accommodate voters, delaying counting.

More Voters

“Almost all of the polling stations have received an increased number of voters compared to the last election,” Maroba said. About 725,000 people registered to cast their ballots, compared with about 550,000 in the 2004 vote, he said.

The BDP has overseen the transformation of the country from a poor, cattle-ranching society into the success story of Africa with a per capita gross domestic product close to that of Mexico and Argentina. The party also presided over this year’s economic slump, when the closure of diamond mines because of tumbling global demand will knock about 10.3 percent off GDP, according to the International Monetary Fund.

Botswana’s economy will contract this year after Debswana Diamond Co., the joint venture between Johannesburg-based De Beers and Botswana’s government, suspended operations in February as the worst global recession since World War II hurt jewelry sales. The company resumed production at most of the operations in April.


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