4 November, 2004

Mogae remains President

President Festus Mogae's ruling party kept a tight hold on power in the general weekend, with the opposition gaining seats but fewer than many expected in final results. His Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), which has won every election since independence in 1966, won 44 of the 57 elected seats in parliament. Its opponents made gains, the main opposition Botswana National Front (BNF) won 12 seats and the smaller Botswana Congress Party (BCP) taking one. Three members of the outgoing cabinet are hence among the surprise casualties of the election. The trio, who were sitting MPs of the Botswana Democratic Party, lost their constituencies to the opposition Botswana National Front and Botswana Congress Party.
President Mogae, a former International Monetary Fund economist who was now inaugurated for his second and final term as President, welcomed the opposition's advance. "In principle, of course, it will keep us on our toes but it also tends to cause the ruling party to be more cohesive. The problem with large majorities is you tend to have opportunistic groups forming in your own party, especially on the backbenches," he told. Mogae also urged the newly elected MPs and councillors to live up to the promises they made to the electorate during the campaigns. He commended all the political parties which took part in the general elections, saying that political opposition enriched democracy, enhanced public debates on national issues and enabled the electorate to make informed choices.
Furthermore, the President re-affirmed his government's commitment to improving the human conditions, combating HIV/AIDS, and attainment of the objectives of the nation's Vision 2016. He added that his government would focus on timely and efficient project implementation, service delivery and customer satisfaction. He said the National Development Plan 9 (NDP 9) was scheduled to undergo a major mid-term review in 2005 in order to sharpen its thrust to respond better to emerging challenges. "We must continue to build the future by ensuring that we are open minded and have the courage to listen to sound advice at home and abroad, review policies where necessary, formulate new ones and above all, implement programmes and projects with vigour and a greater sense of urgency on the part of each and every individual," he concluded. (Mmegi/The Reporter, Gaborone)

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