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Botswana Inaugurates New President


Botswana has inaugurated a new president, its fourth since independence 42 years ago. He is Seretse Ian Khama, the son of the country's first president. Correspondent Scott Bobb reports from our Southern Africa Bureau in Johannesburg.

Botswana's fourth president, Seretse Ian Khama, took the oath of office in Gabarone before Chief Justice Julian Nkanono and a large crowd of onlookers.

"I, Seretse Khama Ian Khama, do swear that I will faithfully and diligently discharge my duties and perform my functions in the high office of the president of the Republic of Botswana," he said.

The 55-year-old Seretse Ian Khama is the son of Botswana's first president, Seretse Khama. Because he was vice president, he replaced President Festus Mogae who stepped down one year before the end of his term. Mr. Mogae had served 10 years as head of state, the maximum allowed by law.

Both leaders belong to the Botswana Democratic Party, which has dominated politics since independence in 1966. As a result, Mr. Khama is favored to win presidential elections due next year.

Botswana's new president is a former army commander and lieutenant-general who entered politics 10 years ago, after leaving the military.

He was elected to parliament in 1998. But he moved quickly up through the hierarchy, first as minister of presidential affairs and public administration and subsequently as vice president and party chairman.

In his inaugural address on national television, Mr. Khama told his fellow citizens to expect a different style of leadership from that of Mr. Mogae. But he said he would maintain existing policies and build on the foundation laid by his predecessors.

"My roadmap for the nation will be underpinned and characterized by the principles of democracy, development, dignity and discipline," he said. "That they all start with the letter 'D' is purely by coincidence."

Mr. Khama said only democracy can create the favorable conditions needed to fulfill the people's aspirations and development that takes into account the new challenges of global competition is also needed to raise standards of living.

He said the promotion of dignity would come by addressing problems such a lack of shelter, poor health care and domestic abuse. And he urged discipline to address social ills ranging from alcoholism and vandalism, to abusive public language and defamation in the mass media.

Some citizens praised the new president's call for rigor, but others said they feared his military background would bring an authoritarian style of leadership.

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