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Mokgweetsi Masisi (left) being sworn in on Sunday. The 55-year-old becomes the country’s 5th president / Photo: Government of Botswana

Botswana swears in new leader, as Ian Khama bows out

The Southern Africa nation of Botswana has sworn-in its new president in the person of Mokgweetsi Masisi. The 55-year-old becomes the country’s 5th president.

He took the oath of office before the country’s national assembly in the presence of the Chief Justice, the Speaker of Parliament and his immediate predecessor, Seretse Khama Ian Khama.

The official oath was administered by Chief Justice Maruping Dibotelo. President Masisi went on to deliver his inaugural speech before inspecting a guard of honour mounted by the Botswana Defence Force.

Masisi takes over a nation widely reputed across the world as one of Africa’s beacons of democracy. The diamond rich nation is also seen as one with sound economic management despite a seeming over dependency on the natural resource.

Botswana law caps presidential tenures to two five-year terms, it allows the vice president to automatically fill the post should it become vacant. Khama came to power through a similar arrangement where he took over from the country’s third president Festus Mogae in 2008 before polls in 2009.

Mokgweetsi Masisi (right) and his predecessor Ian Khama. The transition bolsters the democratic credential of Botswana, considered one of the most stable and prosperous African countries / Photo: Government of Botswana

 

The National Assembly will elect a new president after elections scheduled for October 2019.

The immediate past president Ian Khama, 65, a retired army general who bowed out on March 31, 2018 after a nationwide farewell tour is known as a straight talker under whose watch the country all but broke diplomatic ranks.

The Khama-led government publicly criticised leaders including US President Donald Trump for an alleged slur against African countries and former Zimbabwe’s president Robert Mugabe as well DRC’s Joseph Kabila for overstaying their welcome.

In his inaugural address, he touched on challenges and prospects the country faced as he takes charge, saying; “As you all know, Botswana faces a myriad of challenges such as unemployment, poverty, crime, HIV and AIDS, alcohol and drug abuse, amongst others.

“Therefore, one of my top priorities as the President of this country will be to address the problem of unemployment especially amongst the young people who constitute the majority of our population. The young people, who make 60% of the population of this country, are the future leaders and therefore investing in them is building the bridge to the future.

“The realisation of the demographic dividend is of paramount and strategic importance since the success of our youth is the only guarantee of the long term economic prospects of Botswana. It is imperative therefore, for Government to redouble its effort to optimise the participation of our youthful population in the economy of this country,” he stressed. // AfricaNews

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