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Botswana President Khama Steps Down After 10 Years

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Botswana President Seretse Ian Khama has relinquished power just after 10 years in office, BBC Africa reports.

Ian Khama, 65, was the commander of Botswana’s army before becoming president 10 years ago.

With his exit, the list of African leaders that vacated office voluntarily or with mild force within the last one year keeps growing; from Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe to South Africa’s Jacob Zuma, et al.

The immediate past Nigeria’s president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan conceded defeat in the 2015 presidential election, just as his Ghanaian counterpart, John Manama.

Mr Khama’s decision is in sharp contrast to some other African leaders who have tried to change the constitution to extend their rule.

Mr Khama is stepping down 18 months before the next election is due, and will hand power to his deputy, President Mokgweetsi Masisi.

He has toured all of Botswana’s 57 constituencies since December, in a long goodbye to his supporters in a country which has a population of about 2.2 million.

In his ancestral village on Tuesday, he rejected pleas from villagers to remain in office, saying he took office only because his predecessor, Festus Mogae, persuaded him to do so.

“I was a soldier, I didn’t have interest to join politics, I had future plans, away from politics,” he told the crowd of thousands.

He will be succeeded by Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi, a full 18 months before elections.

A Gun, A Tractor And Cash As Botswana leader’s farewell gifts

President Khama received some unusual gifts on his extensive farewell tour, according to South Africa’s Mail and Guardian news site.

Reports say Mr Khama was given “three cars worth more than $300,000 (£213,450), a bicycle worth $6,000, more than 1,000 cattle, 500-plus chickens and 200 or so sheep”.

It’s also reported that his cabinet gifted him “a pistol, a ranch, a tractor and cash, and some especially generous members of the opposition handed him shares in Botswana’s main telecoms company”.

President Khama is to step down on Saturday after 10 years in power.

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