Botswana dismisses allegations of plans to kill former president Ian Khama

Botswana's government has denied allegations that it plans to arrest and poison exiled former President Ian Khama upon his return from South Africa, where he has been living in exile since 2021.

GABORONE – Botswana’s government has denied allegations that it plans to arrest and poison exiled former President Ian Khama upon his return from South Africa, where he has been living in exile since 2021.

Khama, who governed Botswana for a decade until 2018, alleges that the government fears his influence ahead of next year’s general elections, in which he has vowed to unseat his handpicked successor, Mokgweetsi Masisi.

In an interview with AFP last week, Khama said he had information about plans to arrest and poison him, and had undergone a full medical check and updated his will in preparation.

However, in a statement released on Tuesday, communication permanent secretary William Sentshebeng dismissed Khama’s allegations as “outrageous and unfortunate”.

“We regard the claims as politically motivated and with sole intention to tarnishing the good image of Botswana and her government,” Mr Sentshebeng said.

The row between Khama and Masisi started in 2018 when President Masisi started reversing some key policies adopted during Mr Khama’s tenure.

In December last year, Botswana issued an arrest warrant for Mr Khama, alleging unlawful possession of firearms.

Botswana's President Mokgweetsi Masisi (left) and his Zimbabwean counterpart Emmerson Mnangagwa in 2018.
FILE PHOTO: Botswana’s President Mokgweetsi Masisi (left) and his Zimbabwean counterpart Emmerson Mnangagwa in 2018. [© Aaron Ufumeli/ EPA/ Newscom/ MaxPPP]

Despite the government’s denial, Khama remains convinced of the threat he faces upon his return, and said he was preparing to join with other parties to ensure that Masisi and his party lose the elections.

“I’m not the only one who is being victimized. It is a culture of authoritarianism, which is not good for Botswana, it’s not good for Africa,” Khama was quoted by AFP.

Khama’s claims have been met with skepticism by some analysts, who see them as a bid to garner sympathy ahead of the elections.

“I think Khama’s allegations are politically motivated, and they are intended to try to make him look like a victim, to try to win the sympathy of the electorate,” political analyst Tlhalefo Molete said.

Botswana is widely regarded as one of Africa’s most stable and prosperous countries, with a long tradition of peaceful democratic transitions.

However, the rivalry between Khama and Masisi has raised concerns about the country’s political stability, with some analysts warning that the upcoming elections could be the most divisive in Botswana’s history.

RosGwen24 News
RosGwen24 News
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