Botswana’s president Ian Khama has officially stepped down. The retired army general exited on Saturday handing the diamond-rich country to vice-president, Mokgweetsi Masisi.
Khama, a 65-year old bachelor, is known as a straight talker having publicly criticised leaders including US President Donald Trump for an alleged slur against African countries and former Zimbabwe’s president Robert Mugabe as well DRC’s Joseph Kabila for overstaying their welcome.
55 year-old Masisi inherits a country that has for decades been heralded as a beacon of African democracy and sound economic management but faces a huge task of reducing the country’s dependence on diamonds.
Masisi, a trained teacher who has also worked for the United Nations Children’s Fund as an education project officer for eight years until 2003, was elected lawmaker in 2009.
He served in the president’s office as a minister of public affairs from 2011 until 2014 when Khama named him minister of education, a post he held until appointed Vice President last year.
He becomes only the third leader to take charge of the southern African nation outside the Khama political dynasty. The dynasty dominated national politics since independence from Britain in 1966.
Botswana law restricts the president to serving two five-year terms, and provides for the vice president to automatically fill the post should it become vacant.
The National Assembly will elect a new president after elections scheduled for October 2019.