Sunday, May 29, 2022

‘We are ready for Michelle Obama’ – Gov’t

The Botswana government’s security and intelligence personnel are working around the clock to prepare for the official visit of America’s First Lady Michelle Obama.

While the intelligence and security head honchos were loath to disclose how far they are with preparations, indications are that the Directorate of Intelligence and Security, Botswana Defense Force and Botswana Police are working in collaboration with the American intelligence to ensure that Mrs Obama’s visit passes without a glitch.

Mrs Obama will visit South Africa and Botswana from June 21-26 where she will address women and youth and also advance America’s pro democracy stance. She will be accompanied by her mother and her daughters.

Government spokesperson Jeff Ramsay told The Telegraph that plans are already at an advanced stage but refused to shed more light on the issue. Botswana formerly hosted President Bill Clinton (1998) and George Bush (2003). At the time allegations arose that American intelligence brushed Botswana’s security personnel aside and literally took over the country.

However Ramsay dismissed the allegations as untrue, adding that government never received any reports of acrimony between security personnel. He however agreed that Botswana faced a bit of a problem in preparing for Clinton’s visit as “we still had a lot to learn at the time”.

He also reiterated that Botswana has learnt from the two Presidents’ visits and are now ready and capable to host Mrs Obama. BDF Director of Protocol Colonel Paul Sharp also confirmed that Botswana is ready for Mrs Obama. He also dismissed reports that Botswana’s officers were relegated to the background.

“This is our terrain. We know it better. The Americans respect us and we will not be relegated to the background,” he said.

When asked for a comment, DIS Director Isaac Kgosi said, “This is a very sensitive operation. You cannot expect me to share information with you on this one.”

Ahead of the World Cup, and at the height of the USA-al Qaida standoff, Botswana deported a number of individuals that had suspected links with terrorist organizations. When reports surfaced that President Barack Obama might visit South Africa if the American soccer team made it to the second round, S.A. Police Commissioner Bheki Cele said it would cause heavy security concerns.

“Our job will be made much easier if the United States in knocked out of the World Cup in the first round. One challenge is the American president. We pray that the Americans don’t make the second round. They get eliminated and they go home,” he said. While her stature may not be equal to that of the president, as the first lady, Mrs Obama is also a high profile figure. She enjoys full-time Secret Service protection and has to travel with a large entourage. She also travels aboard an official Air Force charter plane.

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