7 August 2017

Botswana: Security Beefed Up for Dalai Lama

Security arrangements in and around Gaborone are said to have been spruced up ahead of the visit by Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama next month, this publication has learnt.

Information gathered by this publication has revealed that some local embassies have been called upon to assist Botswana's security agents to put up a fool-proof security arrangement as they don't want to leave anything to chance.

Sources within the security agents have revealed that there is fear that Dalai Lama may be exposed to harm during his visit, something that could embarrass Botswana. One of the reasons that the Chinese government gave for not being comfortable with Tibetan spiritual leader coming to Gaborone is said to be his security.

Some of the concerned embassies' Intelligence agents are allegedly to have already arrived in Botswana and are monitoring the security situation to help alert Botswana state security agents on any strange movements.

"The whole area from Sir Seretse Khama International Airport to where he will be accommodated and at Botho University is being spruced up and sanitised for the high profile visit," said an intelligence source.

The event was moved from University of Botswana auditorium to the small Botho University in an effort to make it easy to manage and search the crowd, said the source within the security community. Mind and Life Communications Director Donald J. Crotteau was quick to dismiss the reasoning, saying was just a mere claim. "Of course not. And don't start that rumour because it is absolutely false," he said, adding that the venue was changed in order ensure an atmosphere of meaningful human connection on scale with previous Mind & Life Dialogues.

Answering a question in Parliament recently, Venson-Moitoi announced that government will take care of the Tibetan leader's accommodation and security details.

"We are going to be providing security for Dalai Lama and accommodation," she said though the Dalai Lama will be in Botswana on a private visit to speak at the Mind & Life conference.

Venson-Moitoi also denied the involvement of the US government in the visit of Dalai Lama though the event is organised by an American organisation. "The United States of America Government has no role in the Dalai Lama's visit to Botswana," she declared.

Venson-Moitoi informed Parliament that the Chinese representatives in Botswana have raised a concern about the security of the Dalai Lama and had to do a background check. She said that the Tibetan spiritual leader has been cleared and Interpol has cleared him from their listing of security threats to nations which she said is called a 'listing under I-24/7'.

Venson-Moitoi said Dalai Lama has visited the United States of America and met with the US President and this did not pose any security threat. Venson-Moitoi said that the Chinese are angry that Botswana is hosting the Tibetan leader and have tried everything to stop the trip.

"I had meeting with them and were not satisfied and made appointment for them with President Khama where they met for two hours. To our utter shock they then approached cabinet ministers and members of Ntlo ya Dikgosi one by one, even to the extent of approaching Kgosi Sediegeng Kgamane in Serowe," said Moitoi.

According to the Trade Map 2016 report, last year China exported goods worth US$ 209, 573,000 to Botswana. On the other hand, China imported goods worth US$62,142,000 from Botswana. In the same year Belgium exported goods worth US$141,858,000 to Botswana while Botswana on the other hand exported goods worth US$2,1 billion.

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