President Mogae to be met by protestors during French visit

March 19, 2008

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Supporters of Survival International in France will hold a peaceful demonstration in support of the Kalahari Bushmen on Friday, to coincide with an official visit from Botswana’s president, Festus Mogae.

Protestors will demonstrate outside the President’s meeting with members of Medef, which represents France’s business community.

Festus Mogae is visiting France in his final month as president of Botswana. Survival has criticized Mogae for his treatment of the Bushmen throughout his presidency.

President Mogae will also meet with the French minister of state Jean-Marie Bockel and the foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner. Mr Kouchner sits on the honorary committee of Survival International in France. Survival has written to Kouchner, urging him to raise the plight of the Bushmen during his meeting with President Mogae.

The Botswana High Court declared the eviction of Bushmen from the Central Kalahari Game Reserve ‘unlawful’ in 2006. But President Mogae’s government continues to prevent them from returning, by banning them from operating a water borehole within the reserve, even at their own expense. The US State Department recently condemned the government’s ‘narrow interpretation’ of the High Court ruling.