Organizers of the event that was scheduled to feature the right-hand man of Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama’s Dr Lobsang Sangay have been left licking their wounds and counting their losses after a last-minute cancellation of the event.
After successfully securing a venue at Botho University where Sangay was billed to deliver a public lecture titled ‘The role of youth in 21st century- towards a more peaceful world’, the event was called off a few minutes before the scheduled time last week Tuesday. Multitudes of youth who had been invited to the event left Botho University disappointed as no explanations were provided for the abrupt cancellation of the event, despite the fact that the hall was already setup with chairs and public-address system.
This publication understands that organizers felt uneasy and cancelled the event after learning the Chinese embassy became aware of Sangay’s secretive visit. The Botswana Gazette contacted two of the alleged organizers of the botched event but they both claimed ignorance of the event. It is alleged that payments had already been made for conference facilities and accommodation for Sangay and his entourage despite the organizers opting to swallow the bitter pill and cancel the event to avoid controversy and backlash from some quarters who feel Dalai Lama is not worth sacrificing for the existing cordial relations between the governments of China and Botswana. China has not made it a secret that every country that wants to continue enjoying diplomatic relations with it must not entertain Dalai Lama.
While President Khama has gone on record lambasting China on its stance regarding Dalai Lama, some top government officials are said to be on the side of the Chinese government as they feel Botswana benefits more from China that it can ever benefit from its friendship with the Dalai Lama. Sangay’s last minute pull-out from addressing the audience in Botswana is similar to that of Dalai Lama who cancelled his trip to Gaborone at the last minute in August last year citing exhaustion.
In a brief interview on the side lines of the Chinese Spring Festival reception at Grand Palm on Thursday, Chinese Embassy Director of Political Section in Botswana, Tang Shenping said the Chinese government stands for everything that brings the two countries together and will condemn anything that seeks to divide the two countries.