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Ruling party leads in Botswana vote

October 18, 2009|Reuters

GABORONE, BOTSWANA — Botswana's ruling party claimed victory Saturday in the country's general election, extending President Ian Khama's rule over the world's largest diamond producer for another five years.

Khama's Botswana Democratic Party, in power since independence from Britain in 1966, said it had secured a majority of the parliamentary constituencies.

Botswana's state radio announced a victory, but the count was incomplete.

A spokesman for Botswana's Independent Electoral Commission, Oscar Maroba, said counting in 31 of the 57 constituencies had been completed, with the BDP winning 25 and the main opposition party Botswana National Front and its splinter party Botswana Congress Party capturing three constituencies each.

"One would safely assume that they [the BDP] would win half the remaining constituencies, which would help them to achieve the required absolute majority," Maroba said.

The BDP had been expected to retain control over the southern African nation in the parliamentary and presidential elections held Friday, despite frustration over a recession and infighting in the party.

Vice President Mompati Merafhe said that the ruling party was ready to tackle its internal divisions and that education and job creation remained its main challenges.

"We are ready because we are coming back with a very strong mandate, as the figures would have indicated to you," he said.

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