Botswana President Festus Mogae poised to hand over power to deputy

Other News Materials 1 April 2008 13:17 (UTC +04:00)

(dpa) - Botswana's President Festus Mogae, 68, was to stand down Tuesday and allow his deputy Vice President Seretse Ian Khama lead the ruling Botswana Democratic Party into elections next year.

Mogae, an economist, has held two five-year terms as president. The constitution bars him from seeking a third.

The peaceful transition of power in diamond-rich Botswana contrasts starkly with the turmoil in neighbouring Zimbabwe, where President Robert Mugabe is seeking to cling onto power after ruling for all of the country's 28-year post-independence history.

Mogae's successor Khama, was commander of the Botswana Defence Force before becoming vice president in 1998. Analysts say he is likely to continue Mogae's prudent economic policies, including reducing the country's dependence on diamonds.

Botswana has one of the highest GDP per capita rates in Africa but also one of the highest rates of HIV/AIDS.

The country is expected to hold general elections in October 2009.