November 15, 2007

Alliance of opposition parties

The Botswana National Front (BNF) and the Botswana Peoples Party (BPP) have finally confirmed, after weeks of speculation, that they are exploring ways of cooperating. The two opposition parties have released a joint statement confirming an introductory meeting. Two days before the meeting, admitted that preparation for the talks were underway. BNF spokesman Moeti Mohwasa revealed that they have identified a negotiating team for the initial talks comprising the party vice president Olebile Gaborone, chairman Lemogang Ntime and secretary-general Mohammad Khan. He disclosed that this time the talks would not be conducted through an independent convener.
The latest talks between the two opposition parties come right on the heels of the successful sealing of an electoral pact between the Botswana Alliance Movement (BAM) and the Botswana Congress Party (BCP). That pact was launched in October. Ironically, the BNF and BPP quit the protracted four-party opposition talks early this year as they could not agree on the pact model, which BAM and BCP settled for. The effort towards the cooperation of opposition parties started in earnest in August 2005 when the BAM, BCP and BNF signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which bound them to field joint candidates in all by-elections till the 2009 general elections. However, the four parties could not agree on any cooperation model. Four options were identified, namely a complete merger, establishment of an umbrella party, an electoral pact and affiliation. From the start, the BPP was for complete merger; the BCP for umbrella model; BAM for electoral pact; and BNF for affiliation.
It is against this background that the two parties, the BNF and BPP are entering the current round of cooperation talks. The critical question therefore, is which party will disband and join the other. Or will a hybrid party be born? The two parties' spokesmen are however, optimistic about the project's success. (Mmegi/The Reporter (Gaborone)

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