FRANCISTOWN: The Botswana Congress Party (BCP) has started coalition talks with the Botswana National Front (BNF) The Monitor has established.
The Monitor has learnt 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 election. Last month, BCP members resolved that if the problems within the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) persisted and impeded 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 were being addressed.
The latest meeting between the BNF and the BCP reportedly took place late 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,” a high-ranking insider from one of the two parties said.
Consensus amongst politicians and commentators is that a marriage between the BNF and the BCP is very feasible.
Those backing a coalition between the BCP and BNF believe that the two parties can harness their combined figures to mount
Both party leaders have reportedly agreed to a news blackout on key areas of the bilateral talks.
Yesterday BCP president Dumelang Saleshando confirmed that the BCP has started talks with the BNF in relation to working with each other at the 2019 general election.
“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.
Yesterday BNF spokesperson, Justin Hunyepa confirmed that the BNF recently met BCP, but shared a slightly contrasting version with that of Saleshando.
“The main agenda was to discuss how we can win the election as 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.
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.