Botswana’s former president quits ruling party

Ian Khama
Botswana’s former president Ian Khama

Botswana’s former president Ian Khama has quit the southern African country’s ruling party, citing “deepening differences with the current administration” under President Mokgweetsi Masisi.

Khama made the announcement when addressing thousands of villagers in his home village of Serowe, the capital of Botswana’s central region, which is situated some 300 km northwest of the capital city of Gaborone just five months before the diamond rich nation goes for general elections.

Botswana, a country with an estimated population of 2.1 million, goes to the polls in October this year.

This is the first time in Botswana that a former president quits the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) over the past five decades.

Khama said he made a “grave mistake” by choosing Masisi as his successor. He decided to quit because his relationship with Masisi, the man he handpicked to be the president just over a year ago, has deteriorated.

“I am throwing away my BDP membership card. I do not recognize the BDP anymore,” he said.

According to Khama, his allegiance now lies with the country’s main opposition party, Umbrella for Democratic Change, in a bid to overthrow the ruling BDP in the coming polls.

After taking over the presidential reigns in April last year, Masisi reversed a number of policies which Khama enacted, such as alcohol taxes and the recent lifting of hunting ban.

Khama introduced an elephant hunting ban in 2014.

The BDP has ruled Botswana for uninterrupted 57 years since its independence in 1966.