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BCP, BNF in coalition talks

CHAKALISA DUBE
Duma Boko and Dumelang Saleshando PIC. THALEFANG CHARLES
FRANCISTOWN: The Botswana Congress Party (BCP) has started coalition talks with the Botswana National Front (BNF).

Mmegi has learnt that the executives of the two parties have so far met twice for ‘exploratory’ talks in relation to forming a coalition that will contest the 2019 general elections.  In fact the BCP leader, Dumelang Saleshando, has confirmed the talks about talks.

Yesterday, Saleshando confirmed to Mmegi that the BCP has started talks with the BNF in relation to working with each other in the forthcoming general elections.

“By entering into talks with the BNF we are implementing one of the resolutions taken by party members at our (BCP) conference in Bobonong last month. I cannot say much about our talks with the BNF because they are very sensitive,” he said.

Last month BCP members resolved that if the problems within the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) persist and impede progress within the coalition, the BCP should engage in bilateral discussions with the BNF with a view of forging a working relationship for the 2019 elections.

However, after the BCP conference in Bobonong, Saleshando told a media briefing that negotiations for a reconfigured opposition coalition with the BNF have to start forthwith while the problems within the UDC are being addressed.

The BNF spokesperson, Justin Hunyepa, while confirming that the BNF recently met BCP, shared a slightly contrasting version with that of Saleshando.

“The main agenda was to discuss how we could win the election as

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a united opposition not specifically with the BCP. We will be holding such bilateral meetings with the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) and the Botswana People’s Party (BPP). We will soon be meeting them (BMD and BPP),” he said.

Mmegi has however leant that the latest meeting between the BNF and the BCP took place on Wednesday in Gaborone. The first meeting is said to have taken place just days after the BCP conference in Bobonong.

“The two meetings were about exploratory talks. Full-blown bilateral negotiations, are due to start later this month and may continue for some weeks,” said a high-ranking insider from one of the two parties.

The consensus among politicians and commentators is that a marriage between the BNF and the BCP is very feasible.

Those backing a coaltion between the BCP and BNF believe that the two parties can harness on their combined figures to mount a strong challenge against the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BCP) at the 2019 general elections.  Both party leaders have reportedly agreed to a news blackout on key areas of the bilateral talks.

There is widespread thought that the problems in the UDC might not be resolved in time and the differences over constituencies as well as ward allocations may persist which ultimately means that the two BNF and BCP may work together in 2019.



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