Botswana ruling party leads in early election results

Botswana`s ruling party was leading in most local council constituencies as general election results trickled in Saturday, but opposition parties made a strong showing in the capital, the electoral commission said.

There had been delays in the counting of parliamentary ballots and no results had been received so far, the Independent Electoral Commission spokesman Osupile Maroba told AFP.

"We are hoping to start receiving parliamentary results from 57 poling districts by mid-morning," he said.

Parliamentary results will also determine who will be president for the next five years, with incumbent Ian Khama of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) expected to win a second term.

"We are still on track for the release of final results by the end of the day," said Maroba.

The IEC had verified results from 200 of the 490 local council voting districts, with the BDP winning six of the capital Gaborone`s 13 wards.

The newly formed Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), a coalition of parties contesting the elections for the first time, took four wards while the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) won three.

The election was seen as the most competitive for the BDP, which has ruled Botswana since independence from Britain in 1966, after a split in the party in 2010.

The landlocked, diamond-rich southern African country of two million people is seen as one of the continent`s strongest democracies, and electoral authorities said the Friday vote saw a high turnout of the 800,000 registered voters.

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