Polls are opening in Botswana as the long-peaceful southern African nation faces its tightest election in history. The ruling party and President Mokgweetsi Masisi face a surprising challenge after former President Ian Khama broke away and supports an opposition coalition instead. Khama hand-picked Masisi as his successor when he stepped down last year following two terms in office in the diamond-rich country. But Masisi moved away from some of Khama’s policies, including by loosening restrictions on elephant hunting to appeal to rural voters.
Wednesday’s vote could hinge on whether people support Khama’s move. Opposition leaders say their coalition could unseat the ruling party for the first time since independence in 1966. Botswana, with 925,000 registered voters in a population of 2.2 million, is one of Africa’s most stable countries.