Botswana. In the October parliamentary elections,
Botswana's Democratic Party, BDP, won its eighth straight
electoral victory since the country's independence in 1966.
The party progressed strongly, taking 33 of the 40 seats
that were at stake. In second place came Botswana's national
Countryaah official website, President Festus Mogae, who is the leader of the BDP, was
subjected to harsh criticism from the opposition for the way
in which the preparations for the elections were conducted.
During the election campaign, Mogae was forced to call for a
state of emergency to be able to recall the dissolved
parliament and ask it to extend the time for voter
registration. Tens of thousands of people would otherwise
not have been able to register.
But from the newly elected parliament, Mogae gained the
confidence to continue as president. He had taken over the
presidential post the year before, since his representative
resigned before the end of office. When Mogae was sworn in
for the second time, he said that the government's overall
goal is to fight poverty and unemployment. It is estimated
that nearly 50% of the population lives in poverty, and
unemployment is expected to be close to 35%. The widespread
spread of AIDS has reduced the population's estimated
average life expectancy to 40 years.
At the same time, diamond exports give the country high
macroeconomic growth, calculated at 6% in 1998/1999. That
figure was still a decline from previous years due to
falling diamond prices.
In a dramatic event just before the election, Air
Botswana lost three of its four aircraft. It was one of the
company's pilots who committed suicide by flying into the
set planes at the airport at the capital Gaborone.
In December, the International Court of Justice in The
Hague declared that Botswana has the right to a disputed
island in the Chobe River, which forms a border with
Namibia. The dispute has in the past almost led the two
countries to war with each other.