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Botswana ex-president slams successor, says President Masisi now an autocrat

To me, it’s so sad and extremely painful that all these years’ work to build up to what we had achieved is being put in reverse

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Botswana former president Ian Khama Sereste delivers a speech to announce his departure from the Botswana Democratic Part (BDP). Khama has also claimed that his successor, President Masisi, is running an autocratic government. (Photo by Monirul BHUIYAN / AFP)


Botswanan former president Ian Khama has accused his chosen successor of becoming an autocrat and threatening the country’s reputation as a beacon of stability in Africa.

Khama, 66, last week left the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) in a culmination of a dramatic fall-out with President Mokgweetsi Masisi, who took office last year.

Khama told AFP that he took the “very painful” decision to leave the BDP because of the “immature and arrogant” attitude of Masisi’s government.

“The person who I nominated to be my successor, as soon as he took office became very autocratic, very intolerant and it has led to a decline in the democratic credentials that we have a reputation for,” Khama said in a telephone interview.

After serving the constitutional maximum of ten years in office, Khama handed power in April 2018 to Masisi, who was then his deputy.

Khama stepped down 18 months before elections, allowing Masisi to settle into the role and start campaigning.

But the two leaders have clashed so badly that Khama last weekend quit the party and declared he would campaign against it in the October elections.

Khama — whose father Sir Seretse Khama co-founded the BDP in 1962 — said he was not joining another party but would back some opposition parliamentary candidates.

Election in the balance?

He said some senior BDP officials fear the party may be “heading for an election defeat” because they believe Masisi “has now become a liability”.

Since coming to office, Masisi changed several key policies adopted by Khama — the most high-profile being the lifting of the wildlife sports hunting ban imposed in 2014.

“To me, it’s so sad and extremely painful that all these years’ work to build up to what we had achieved is being put in reverse,” said Khama, adding Masisi never previously objected to the ban.

“We have had stability for many years, we have had wildlife for many years, we have been trying to play our part as a responsible member of the international community in fostering democracy.

“When you see what is happening, putting all the hard work into reverse, it is unacceptable.”

Khama accused Masisi of cracking down on dissent in Botswana.

“Anybody who is seen as an opponent in the party or opposition parties — there is this use of state security organs to go after them and harass people,” he said.

“Those are things we have never seen in Botswana and one just cringes. It’s that bad.”

“I have seen that happen in other countries,” he added, warning the country would “gradually start having a serious deficit in democracy.”

Masisi and the BDP have not publicly responded to Khama’s criticisms.

‘Painful decision’

“It was a very painful decision, a very hard one and I gave a lot of thought to it,” the former leader said about leaving the party, which has ruled Botswana since independence from Britain in 1966 but lost popularity under Khama’s rule.

When in office, Khama was renowned for his straight talking — publicly criticising US President Donald Trump and then-president Robert Mugabe in neighbouring Zimbabwe.

He said he was determined to be equally frank about Masisi.

“When he was my vice president… he never displayed any of these issues we are now seeing, (he was) always very intelligent, very supportive of all these policies that he is now reversing.”

Botswana last week attracted world headlines over Masisi’s decision to end the hunting ban.

The government said elephant hunting would help control the booming population which it said was causing serious damage to farmers’ livelihoods.

Botswana has the world’s largest elephant population with more than 135,000 roaming freely in its unfenced parks and wide open spaces.

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North Africa Politics

Abdel Fattah al-Sisi denies allegations of corruption

Sisi told a youth conference in Cairo on Saturday the accusations were “lies and slander” designed to “break the will of Egyptians”

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Abdel Fattah al-Sisi denies allegations of corruption

Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Saturday flatly denied allegations of corruption made by an Egyptian businessman, assuring he was “honest and faithful” to his people and army.

Videos posted online from outside the country since early September accusing Sisi and Egypt’s military of graft have gone viral, sparking rare debate about the army’s growing economic empire. 

The man behind them, 45-year-old construction contractor Mohamed Aly, claims that authorities have misappropriated millions of Egyptian pounds in public funds. 

He also alleges the military owes him hundreds of millions of pounds for projects his company was commissioned to build, including palatial residences for Sisi.

Sisi told a youth conference in Cairo on Saturday the accusations were “lies and slander” designed to “break the will (of Egyptians) and make them lose all hope and confidence”. 

Quoted by local TV, Sisi said he decided to speak out despite “calls from all state bodies” for him not to respond. 

“Your son is honest, faithful and loyal,” he added.

Aly — who says he has fled to Spain — has not provided evidence to back up his claims and the Egyptian armed forces declined an AFP request to comment.

In the footage, released in instalments, Aly mocks Sisi – a former army chief – and lambasts the military.

In the first video, posted on September 2, Aly blasted Sisi, without naming him, saying: “You say the Egyptian people are very poor and that we should tighten our belts.

“(But) you are throwing away billions and your men are wasting millions.”

In a speech on Egypt’s economy two years ago, Sisi had said “We (Egyptians) are very poor”.

The reality is different, according to Aly, who says that some of the projects the military asked him to build included a luxurious guest house for Sisi in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria and a palace in Cairo.

“People must know how their money is being spent,” Aly says in one video.

For decades, the military has played a key but opaque economic role, producing everything from washing machines to pasta, alongside building roads and operating gas stations.

Since the arrival of Sisi, who toppled his Islamist predecessor Mohamed Morsi in 2013, the army’s economic involvement has been more visible amid austerity measures and rising prices.

The army spokesman said recently on a popular TV show that the armed forces oversee rather than “manage” some 2,300 projects nationwide, employing five million civilians. 

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189 Nigerians repatriated from South Africa after xenophobic attacks

More than 600 Nigerians are expected to return from South Africa this week, the Nigerian government has said

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189 Nigerians repatriated from South Africa after xenophobic attacks
People disembark from a plane as a first group of Nigerians repatriated from South Africa following xenophobic violence arrives in Lagos, on September 11, 2019. (Photo by PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP)

Almost 200 Nigerian migrants were repatriated from South Africa on Wednesday following a wave of xenophobic violence that swept through the country and sparked sharp exchanges between the two countries.

A flight carrying 189 Nigerians landed in Nigeria’s commercial capital Lagos, with some of those onboard punching the air and singing their national anthem while waving pictures of burnt shops.

“I ran for my life, they would have killed me,” said Samson Aliyu, a clothes seller who lived in South Africa for two years.

READ: Police arrests several shop looters in South Africa

“They burnt my shop, everything,” he added.

189 Nigerians repatriated from South Africa after xenophobic attacks
Air Peace flight attendants hold placards to denounce xenophobia as a first group of Nigerians repatriated from South Africa following xenophobic violence arrives in Lagos, on September 11, 2019. (Photo by PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP)

More than 600 Nigerians are expected to return from South Africa this week, the Nigerian government has said.

“We were expecting 317 but from the information we have 189 are on board,” said Nigeria’s minister for diaspora affairs Abike Dabiri-Erewa.

“There was about a five-hour delay courtesy of the South African authorities who actually frustrated this return of Nigerians,” she said, blaming authorities in Johannesburg for failing to help Nigerians without travel documents.

READ: Nigeria plans to repatriate 600 citizens from South Africa

“There was a lot of frustration in getting them back home but we’re glad that they will be here,” she added.

Leading the returnees in singing the national anthem, Dabiri-Erewa promised the government would provide financial support.

Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission Abike Dabiri-Erewa speaks after a first group of Nigerians repatriated from South Africa following xenophobic violence arrived in Lagos, on September 11, 2019. (Photo by Olukayode Jaiyeola/NurPhoto)

Johannesburg and surrounding areas were rocked by a series of deadly attacks on foreigners last week, including many directed against Nigerian-owned businesses and properties.

At least 10 people were killed in the violence and hundreds of shops destroyed while more than 420 people were arrested.

READ: South Africa vows to tackle xenophobic attacks against foreigners

No Nigerian was killed but the violence led to condemnation across Africa, particularly in Nigeria, fuelling diplomatic tensions between the continent’s two leading nations.

The violence also prompted reprisal attacks against South African firms in Nigeria and the temporary closing of South Africa’s diplomatic missions in Lagos and Abuja.

READ: African migrants seek refuge amidst xenophobic attacks in South Africa

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Nigerian court upholds President Muhammadu Buhari’s February election win

The opposition party says it will head to the country’s supreme court to appeal the ruling of the lower court

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Nigerian court upholds President Muhammadu Buhari's February election win

A Nigerian court on Wednesday upheld President Muhammadu Buhari’s election victory earlier this year, dismissing a request by opposition parties to overturn the result over claims of voting irregularities.

Buhari, 76, won a second term with 56 per cent of the February poll, which was long-delayed.

Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar of the main opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP), who came in second with 41 per cent, immediately called the result a “sham”. Opposition parties lodged a legal challenge against the result in March.

Abubakar, 72, said he had been cheated of the chance to lead Africa’s most populous state after a conspiracy between the electoral commission INEC and Buhari’s ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

However, on Wednesday, the presidential election tribunal found there was no evidence of the opposition’s claims.

“This petition is, hereby, dismissed in its entirety,” judge Mohammed Garba said on Wednesday.

The ruling was widely expected, with Buhari’s government taking office last month.

Buhari has insisted that the election was free and fair, claiming the vote was “another milestone in Nigeria’s democratic development”. 

In a press statement reacting to the verdict, the opposition party says it will head to the country’s supreme court to appeal the ruling of the lower court.

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