FILE - In this Oct. 23, 2019, file photo, Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi arrives to vote in Botswana's general elections…
FILE - Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi arrives to vote in Botswana's general elections in Moshupa, Botswana.

GABARONE, BOTSWANA - The Botswana Democratic Party shrugged off a spirited challenge from the opposition coalition, the Umbrella for Democratic Change, to keep intact its 53-year, uninterrupted rule.

On Friday morning, the BDP secured the 29 of 57 National Assembly seats required to form the next government.

Botswana Chief Justice Terrence Rannowane declared BDP leader, Mokgweetsi Masisi, the country's president.

"I, Terrence Rannowane, in my capacity as the Chief Justice of Botswana and the returning officer for the presidential elections, have the honor to declare to the nation of Botswana and world at large, that Dr. Eric Mokgweetsi Masisi is the elected president of the Republic of Botswana," Rannowane said.

FILE - Polling officers verify ballots from ballot boxes arriving at a counting center in the Ledumang Senior Secondary school for the Gaborone North constituency, in Gaborone, Oct. 23, 2019.

Ruling party supporter Sindy Sibanda is happy with the outcome of Wednesday's  elections after a tough campaign.

"I am very excited with the outcome of the election," she said. "President Masisi is God-chosen, he deserves it. He is a man who wants what is best for the people, he is a man who respects human beings. That's what I voted for and that is what we were given."

Opposition supporters, however, are in a state of despair. Thirty-year-old Mpho Loeto admits he had been optimistic when he cast his vote, but was shocked with the outcome, particularly after a promising campaign.

"I am surprised about the results," he said. "I didn't expect this. I was shocked that we did not even get a single seat in Gaborone. But I am happy that we managed to win constituencies we have never won before, particularly in the north. But this was a strange election."

Some opposition candidates, such as Sam Digwa, who lost to the country's former Vice President Slumber Tsogwane, say there was intimidation and fraudulent voting in some areas.

The much-anticipated polls attracted a large turnout, with some people unable to cast their vote by cutoff time Wednesday.

The BDP raced into an early lead Thursday, after dislodging the opposition from its urban strongholds.

In the capital, Gaborone, the opposition failed to win a single seat for the first time since 1984. It made inroads in traditional BDP areas in the Central Districts, although that was not enough to ensure a change of government.