Former Botswana President Ian Khama has been formally charged with 14 counts relating to the illegal possession of firearms in what is the first attempt at the criminal prosecution of a previous head of state.
Khama, who is charged with three others, was not at the court in the capital, Gaborone, after having moved to South Africa in November, citing threats on his life from the current administration.
The four accused face a combined 52 charges related to the theft and unlawful possession of various firearms, according to court documents obtained by Bloomberg. State prosecutors say the alleged offenses largely occurred during Khama’s presidency, which ended in March 2018.
The case, which was postponed to June 6, intensifies the fall-out between Khama and Mokgweetsi Masisi, his handpicked successor. The two have clashed over policies including the resumption of trophy hunting and presidential entitlements that Khama says he is being denied.
Khama quit the ruling Botswana Democratic Party in 2019 amid increasing disagreements and formed the opposition Botswana Patriotic Front, which won just three of the 57 legislative constituencies that were contested in elections that year.
Khama, who is a former army general and led Botswana for a decade, is the eldest son of Botswana’s iconic first post-independence president, Seretse Khama. Seretse Khama, whose life was portrayed in the 2016 film “A United Kingdom,” was leader of the southern African nation after independence from Britain in 1966 until his death in 1980.
Ian Khama’s lawyers did not immediately respond to calls for comment on the charges. Khama has said previously in interviews with the South African Broadcasting Corp. that there is a targeted campaign against him because he has spoken out against Masisi’s government.
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