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Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Coerced to ban a Dalai Lama visit, Botswana tells China it’s not a colony

Botswana’s President Ian Khama. (Photo courtesy: southernafrican.news)
Botswana’s President Ian Khama. (Photo courtesy: southernafrican.news)

(TibetanReview.net, Aug20, 2017) – Botswana’s President Ian Khama has revealed that he had refused to bow to China which had threatened him with all manners of punitive actions, including isolating his country from the rest of the African continent, for having refused to prevent a visit by Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, whom he was scheduled to meet. “We are not your colony,” qz.com Aug 18 quoted him as having said in his diplomatic standoff with China in recent weeks.

The 82-year-old Dalai Lama was to visit the capital Gaborone of the diamond-rich nation of less than two million people from Aug 15 to 20, but cancelled it due to exhaustion from two months of hectic schedules which had taken him across Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir state and then to New Delhi and India’s commercial capital Mumbai.

“They told me things like the ambassador may be recalled, it would damage relations between Botswana and China that they would … engage other African states to isolate Botswana,” Khama was quoted as having said in the Aug 17 edition of the Botswana Guardian newspaper.

But neither side got to test the other’s resolve after the Dalai Lama cancelled his trip late last week, citing exhaustion and a doctor’s recommendation to avoid long trips, the report added.

Nevertheless Khama hopes that the Dalai Lama would visit his country after his recovery which he was sure would be soon. “We assume he will make a speedy recovery and once he has recovered, he is of course welcome to come and visit Botswana,” he was quoted as saying.

The report noted that despite China’s warnings, Gaborone had forged ahead with preparations for the Dalai Lama’s visit. Gabz FM, one of the largest private radio stations in the country, ran regular advertisements for the live broadcast of the dialogue on “spirituality, science and humanity,” it said.

The report also said the country’s media seemed to be emboldened by the president’s stance that his country would not be bullied, sending the message that Botswana did not need China.

Khama is stepping down next year as President.

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