GABORONE, Botswana – Botswana's governing party that has been in power for more than four decades once again swept parliamentary elections, the country's independent electoral commission announced Sunday.
The move paves the way for legislators to select incumbent President Seretse Ian Khama to continue as leader of the world's largest diamond-producing country.
The commission announced Sunday that the Botswana Democratic Party had won 45 out of the 57 parliamentary seats in Friday's vote, a peaceful election all but eclipsed by political struggles and violence elsewhere in Africa. The party has been in power since Botswana won independence from Britain in 1966.
The BDP prevailed over a divided opposition even though the country faces numerous challenges: a global recession that has dampened appetites for diamonds and other luxury goods, widespread poverty and one of the continent's highest AIDS rates.
Khama, a former army commander, is the son of the country's first president after independence and has considerable support because of his late father's popularity. He was serving as vice president when former President Festus Mogae stepped down last year before the end of his second term, when the constitution required him to leave office.
The country's opposition, which is divided and weak, calls Khama a divisive figure whose military background did not prepare him to lead a democracy. He dismisses charges that he has tried to suppress dissent.
Botswana, one of Africa's most politically and economically stable countries, is the size of Texas and sparsely populated. It might be best known in the West as the setting of Alexander McCall Smith's "No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency" novels and HBO TV series.
The country suffers from high levels of poverty and unemployment, and the worldwide recession has lowered demand for its diamonds. The country's GDP shrank by 20 percent in the first quarter of 2009, according to the 2009 African Economic Outlook.