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Botswana swears in Mokgweetsi Masisi as new President


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Botswana’s President Mokgweetsi Masisi was sworn in on Friday after the Botswana Democratic Party won the country’s parliamentary elections last week.

The mood was upbeat at the University of Botswana venue were about 3,000 guests attended the inauguration of the country’s fifth democratically elected president.

Masisi has vowed to prioritise job creation during his tenure, in order to curb the country’s increasing unemployment rate.

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The diamond-rich southern African country has long been considered one of Africa’s most stable democracies; however, it has also struggled with high unemployment, which official records peg at 17 per cent.

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Some opposition parties have suggested that it is higher. Masisi also reiterated his government’s commitment to wildlife conservation in the country.

“My government will continue to seek an outcome that will set the tone for conserving our wildlife and elephants in particular,” Masisi said.

Botswana received a backlash from the international community and animal rights activists after the country lifted a moratorium on elephant hunting in May.

The lifting of the ban also offended former president Ian Khama, who defected from the BDP to the Botswana Patriotic Front, which also contested the elections.

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The BDP has ruled Botswana since independence from Britain in 1966, overseeing its rise from one of the world’s poorest nations to a middle-income country thanks to diamond production.

Other African countries were represented at the ceremony with President Emmerson Mnangagwa of Zimbabwe, President Edgar Lungu of Zambia and President Filipe Nyusi of Mozambique in attendance.

Former Botswana president Festus Mogae was also there, but Khama was notable by his absence.

The 58-year-old took the oath of office at the University of Botswana Indoor Sports Arena in the capital, Gaborone.

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The swearing-in was Botswana’s first to be held away from the Parliament building.

BDP won the Oct. 23 vote after securing 38 of the 57 seats in the National Assembly, while the opposition coalition Umbrella for Democratic Change won 15.

The ruling party has been in power since the southern African country attained its independence in 1966.

Masisi banked on his record on tackling corruption, such as making the declaration of assets obligatory for public sector officials.

He is also credited with overseeing a reduction in bureaucracy for small businesses.

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