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Botswana leader set to step down, receives incredible farewell gifts

Botswana’s outgoing President Ian Khama has received some unusual gifts on his extensive farewell tour, reports South Africa’s Mail and Guardian news site.

So far, it says, Mr Khama has been given “three cars worth more than $300,000 (£213,450), a bicycle worth $6,000, more than 1,000 cattle, 500-plus chickens and 200 or so sheep”.

The news site reports that President Khama’s cabinet gifted him “a pistol, a ranch, a tractor and cash, and some especially generous members of the opposition handed him shares in Botswana’s main telecoms company”.

President Khama, 65, is to step down on Saturday after 10 years in power.

Mr Khama’s decision is in sharp contrast to some other African leaders who have tried to change the constitution to extend their rule.

He is stepping down 18 months before the next election is due, and will hand power to his deputy, President Mokgweetsi Masisi.

Mr Khama has toured all of Botswana’s 57 constituencies since December, in a long goodbye to his supporters in a country which has a population of about 2.2 million.

In his ancestral village on Tuesday, he rejected pleas from villagers to remain in office, saying he took office only because his predecessor, Festus Mogae, persuaded him to do so, AFP reports.

“I was a soldier, I didn’t have interest to join politics, I had future plans, away from politics,” he told the crowd of thousands.

He will be succeeded by Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi, a full 18 months before elections.

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