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Opposition claim detentions, harassment ahead of Botswana elections

Two women, one a Motswana and another a Dutch/Belgian national, said about 10 men who initially refused to identify themselves entered the party offices and demanded that they go with them to a police station.

Cars pass by a poster of the president of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Duma Boko during an election campaign in Gaborone on 18 October 2019 for the general elections. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG - Opposition campaigners of Botswana’s Umbrella for Democratic Change who were detained by intelligence officers for seven hours in the capital, Gaborone, said they wanted answers from the government.

Two women, one a Motswana and another a Dutch/Belgian national, said about 10 men who initially refused to identify themselves entered the party offices and demanded that they go with them to a police station.

Opposition leaders have claimed that intelligence, which reports to a sitting president, is used to harass them as they campaign and they want it to report to parliament.

As Botswana goes to the polls on Wednesday, opposition leaders have claimed that they are being followed and their phones are tapped, but they don’t have proof.

A campaigner for the UDC and a friend of the leader from the UK Nathalie Dorlean said they witnessed the abuse first hand.

“I was arrested by eight to 10 men. They took me to a police station for seven hours.”

Dorlean said the officers initially refused to show them IDs.

But in the end, the Directorate of Intelligence said she was guilty of working without a permit and fined her 1,000 pula.

She has denied that she was working and maintains she is a potential investor who supports the UDC.

Earlier, Botswana patriotic front leader Biggie Butale also claimed he was tailed.

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