Ian Khama, the former president of Botswana, will contest an arrest warrant issued by a court for the possession of illegal firearms, his lawyer has said.
Khama, who led Botswana from 2008 to 2018, left the country last year for neighboring South Africa after falling out with his successor, President Mokgweetsi Masisi.
The arrest warrant, issued on Friday by Gaborone’s regional magistrate, follows Khama’s failure to appear for trial earlier this year. The 69-year-old faces 14 charges dating back to 2016, among them allegations of money laundering and handling stolen property, but the warrant is only for the possession of five illegal firearms.
Mareledi Dipate, the magistrate who issued the arrest warrant, said Khama should be apprehended on sight and taken to the Broadhurst Magistrate’s Court.
Victor Ramalepa, a lawyer for the former leader, told the local newspaper Mmegi that they will challenge the decision, without giving further details.
Khama is charged along with the former head of intelligence and police services, Isaac Kgosi, suspended Police Commissioner Keabetswe Makgophe, and Victor Paledi, a former deputy permanent secretary in the Youth, Gender, Sport and Culture Ministry.
Khama has vehemently denied the charges, saying they are part of a political conspiracy due to his opposition to Masisi.
“There’s been no crime. I have done nothing wrong,” Khama told South Africa’s state broadcaster SABC on Friday.
The former leader said the warrant was issued because he “left the ruling party and campaigned against him [Masisi]”.
“I have the licenses [for the firearms]. They wanted to search [his property] and take them away. But they came with the wrong search warrant,” Khama told SABC.
“Despite the fact that they came with the wrong search warrant … I said I have got nothing to hide, tomorrow let’s meet and I will display the weapons and the licenses. They didn’t come,” he added.
Khama, the son of Botswana’s first President Seretse Khama, was the fourth president of Botswana.
After serving as commander of the Botswana Defence Force, Khama ventured into politics and was vice president from 1998 to 2008, before succeeding Festus Mogae as president in 2008.
Khama was re-elected in the 2009 elections. He was elected again in October 2014, leaving office four years later after completing two five-year terms.