Botswana's President Mokgweetsi Masisi delivers his speech after being sworn in as the fifth president of the country, Gaborone, November 1 2019. Picture: MONIRUL BHUIYAN/ /AFP
Botswana's President Mokgweetsi Masisi delivers his speech after being sworn in as the fifth president of the country, Gaborone, November 1 2019. Picture: MONIRUL BHUIYAN/ /AFP

Opposition leaders boycotted the inauguration of Botswana president Mokgweetsi Masisi in Gaborone on Friday.

Masisi, the leader of the victorious Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) , took the oath of office in a packed indoor stadium at Botswana University, in front of foreign dignitaries. including Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who received a rapturous welcome from the crowd.

Former Botswana president Ian Khama did not attend the event.  Khama, quit the ruling BDP that was founded by his father, Seretse Khama, in 1965, following a spat with his successor, Masisi. This was over the withdrawal of certain privileges for the former president, as well as Masisi’s refusal to appoint Tshekedi Khama, Ian Khama's brother as vice-president.

Khama formed the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) with Biggie Butale as party president and formed an alliance with the official opposition party, the Umbrella for Democratic Change.

BPF’s spokesperson, Joseph Mothlabani, said  Khama did not attend the inauguration because the party believed that “grand election fraud” had taken place. The BPF also objected to the Botswana defence force “mobilising” Batswana to attend live big screenings of the inauguration at 54 locations around the country.

Opposition leader Duma Boko has told the media that he believed the poll was rigged and would be challenging the result in the courts. He told Bloomberg that he believed there was a 33% discrepancy between the number of people the IEC said were on the roll in March 2019 and official tally. He also said about 75,000 people, including his wife, did not have their gender recorded on the roll, disqualifying them from voting.

But observers from the African Union and regional bloc SADC endorsed the poll as free and fair.