Friday, August 15, 2008

President of Botswana to Boycott SADC Summit

Sereste Khama Ian Khama, the new President of Botswana, has announced that he will be boycotting this weekend's Southern African Development Community meeting in Johannesburg due to the presence of Robert Mugabe.

Zimbabwe is expected to be high on the summit's agenda. However, Mugabe has prevented opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai from attending the meeting as his travel documents were seized along with that of Movement for Democratic Change Secretary General Tendai Biti. It is believed that Mugabe has reached a power sharing agreement with Arthur Mutambara, the leader of the other faction of the MDC.

One might not think much of Khama's announcement but it is significant. Other African leaders have criticized Mugabe but none has publicly refused to share the stage with him.

Look at it this way. Botswana is the anti-Zimbabwe. It is by far the most stable country on the African continent. It has been independent since 1966. Granted only the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) has ever held office but there are regular elections every five years with the next one scheduled for 2009. There has never been a military coup and its white minority population is treated with respect and fully participates in Botswana's civil society.

So it is fitting that the President of Africa's most stable nation would take a stand against the President of Africa's most unstable nation.

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