What Botswana's elections say about Africa's postcolonial headache

This tiny landlocked African nation has maintained a democratic tradition since independence. But without a genuine opposition, its democratic institutions could falter.

Botswana's Independent Electoral Commission
(Image credit: (Lu Tianran/Xinhua Press/Corbis))

Botswana, a tiny landlocked country north of South Africa, held an election over the weekend. The result was a victory for the incumbent, the Botswana Democratic Party, but by the narrowest margin in the country's electoral history.

It was an alarming campaign. As Amy Poteete points out at The Washington Post, the run-up to the election featured some extremely ugly politics, including the death of an opposition politician under mysterious circumstances and the alleged kidnapping and torture of others by the security apparatus. One journalist fearing for his life fled to South Africa, and his editor was charged with sedition. Nevertheless, the election itself appears to have been free of overt fraud.

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