Botswana Reports Good Voter Turnout in General Election
By Peter Clottey
16 October 2009
Official campaigning has ended ahead of Botswana's general election scheduled for Friday, 16 October.
The independent electoral commission expressed readiness after announcing that 68 percent of eligible voters have registered to participate in Friday's vote.
Polls are scheduled to open from 6am until 7pm Friday - with provisional results expected to start trickling in on Saturday.
Most analysts predict the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), which has ruled since 1966, to win, despite a stiff challenge from the opposition.
Journalist Kealeboga Dihutso at independent GABZ FM radio in Botswana said that local youth are enthusiastic about the vote.
"There is a lot of excitement. The most important thing about this election is that in more than…30 years in the history of this country (this would be) the biggest turnout," Dihutso said.
He said there are indications that youth will participate in the vote.
"Young people have actually registered to vote such that the suspicion is that they will probably be a little bit uncomfortable about the ruling government," he said.
Dihutso said despite challenges, the body is prepared for Friday's vote.
"There is no doubt that quite a lot of people have issues about whether or not the electoral commission was ready. The electoral officers should have voted two weeks ago, because there were a few problems with the ballot papers themselves…but they came up with solutions that most people were quite comfortable with," Dihutso said.
Some political observers say with the opposition parties participating in the election only two, the Botswana National Front (BNF) and the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) have posed any serious challenge to the ruling BDP since independence.
The other parties include Botswana People's Party (BPP), and the Botswana Alliance Movement (BAM).
Dihutso acknowledged the ruling party is strongly favored to win the vote. "It seems to be a given really that the ruling party will win it," he said.
But he said the opposition could pose a significant threat to the ruling party. "What everybody else is interested in is something that is going to be the first time in Botswana. The idea that it's possible that we are going to have a situation where the ruling party takes more seats than anybody else in parliament but loses the popular vote," he said.
Dihutso said there have been visible cracks in the ruling BDP's lead emerging right before the election.
"Mind you, quite a lot of things have happened within the ruling party, and there has been a groundswell of support against the ruling party," Dihutso said.
Meanwhile Botswana's Independent Electoral Commission has urged international observers to give an honest appraisal of the vote.
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