UDC to challenge Botswana election results

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The main opposition party in Botswana, the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) says it is preparing court papers to dispute the outcome of last week’s general elections.

The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) won the election, with 38 seats, followed by the UDC with 25, Botswana Patriotic Front with three and the Alliance for Progressives with one, in the 57 seat parliament.

The UDC alleges there were irregularities, which benefited the BDP, which has been governing Botswana since it got its independence in 1966.

They allege duplicate registrations, where one person was allowed to vote more than once.

They argue that registered voters were turned away in the opposition’s strongholds.

Biggie Butale, is the leader of Botswana Patriotic Front, the brainchild of former president Ian Khama.

“We are not happy with how the election was conducted. We detected a lot of irregularities in the whole process and we think that perhaps that makes the final results unfaithful. Some of our members who had registered and had valid IEC registration cards did not appear in the ballot paper, therefore some of them did not vote.”

But the BDP has dispelled this, calling the opposition sore losers. Its executive secretary, Ame Makoba, says they believe elections were free and fair.

“We are happy, as a country, as a party, to note that the observer missions that observed the elections have given a verdict that they were free and fair. This is the very view that Botswana Democratic Party holds, that the elections were free and fair and the results should be left to rest, so that we may proceed as the nation.”

Though it disputes the election outcomes, the UDC calls on citizens to remain calm.

Its spokesperson Moeti Mohwasa explains: ” We want to urge our people to remain calm and peaceful, because we do not want to drag this country into chaos but we will use legal means to ensure that those instances are corrected.”

A political analyst at the University of Botswana, Dr Gladys Mokhawa, says though election outcomes are being disputed, the reputation of Botswana remains intact.

” don’t think it has painted a different picture. I think some of these issues are to be expected in terms of conducting elections. But, perhaps, maybe, it is how IEC together with the government will handle this concern.”

The IEC in Botswana could not be reached for comment.

It said in an earlier interview that it was aware of the allegations, but measures were put in place to correct the situation where needed.