Botswana holds parliamentary elections

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Voters in Botswana will head to the polls this Friday to vote in parliamentary elections. The incumbent Democratic Party, in power since 1966, is expected to win the vote.

Location of Botswana
Image: Rei-artur.

Some voters left their homes as early as 04.00 local time to be in time for the opening of polling stations two hours later, and voters moved through polling stations at a steady pace throughout the day.

About 700,000 residents are registered to vote. Joseph Gaie, lecturer in political ethics at Botswana University in Gaborone, told the Voice of America news agency that a good turnout had been expected.

Well a lot of people, elderly people take this as a duty - every five years they have to go and vote.

—Joseph Gaie

"Well a lot of people, elderly people take this as a duty - every five years they have to go and vote," he said. "And then a lot of youth that have just come, this will be the first time that 18-year-olds vote, so they are very excited about it."

Voting had proceeded without incidents or violence at polling stations, officials said. "We have not received any complaints of intimidation from any of the political parties," said the head of the Southern African Development Community observer mission Francisco Madeira.

The two major opposition parties, the Botswana National Front and the Botswana Congress Party, are hoping to do much better this time than in previous elections and have indicated they may cooperate in parliament after the poll.

Botswana is a democracy that has seen consistent economic growth in the 43 years since it won independence from the UK. That growth is largely due to exports from the country's diamond industry, which suffered dramatically in the global economic crisis. The net effect of that has seen an 11.5% contraction of the economy in the year that ended in June. The election results will be known on Saturday.