GABORONE: Botswana municipal poll results trickled in Saturday ahead of a parliamentary outcome expected to return President Ian Khama's ruling party to the helm of the world's biggest diamond producer.

The ruling Botswana Democratic Party was leading the race for council seats, contested by seven political parties and 146 independent candidates, but no results were available on who had made it into parliament.

"We are still receiving the council result. We haven't received any parliamentary results," said Independent Electoral Commission spokesman Oscar Maroba.

Africa's flagship democracy Botswana is electing its 10th democratic government, a process overshadowed by political chaos in neighbouring Zimbabwe where a unity government between rivals is on the verge of collapse.

Known for its peaceful election process, this year's polls in Botswana have been the toughest yet with bitter infighting in the ruling party, which has ruled since independence in 1966, and an economy hard hit by falling diamond revenues.

The BDP is likely to remain in charge with little contest from a weak opposition, after overseeing four decades of stability.

The main opposition Botswana National Front and its offshoot Botswana Congress Party and 15 independents are also in the race for the presidency which Khama has held since last April when his predecessor retired after serving his maximum 10 years.

While hugely popular in rural areas, the 56-year-old son of Botswana's founding father and chief of its largest tribe faces mounting unease over his authoritarian leadership style and high levels of poverty and unemployment in the diamond-rich country.

But the tough-talking Khama is popular abroad, having often broken ranks with regional leader's softly-softly approach to criticise democratic abuses by Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe.

He told AFP this week Harare's fragile unity government was "limping along" and faced a real danger of collapsing, warning he would not recognise a Mugabe-only government.

Regular, peaceful elections and one of the world's best growth rates in Botswana stand in stark contrast to the election violence and devastating economic crisis across the border.

An observer from a regional non-governmental organisation told AFP after polls closed that the vote had proceeded "very well", and the IEC said high voter turnout had been reported.

While stable, the global recession has provided a wake-up call to Botswana, highlighting the urgent need to diversify the economy away from diamonds which contribute a third of the nation's gross domestic product.

Despite the diamond wealth, the industry only employs just over 5,000 people and unemployment and inequality are high, with 47 percent of the population living on less than one dollar a day.

Botswana has the world's second-highest rates of AIDS, with one in four adults estimated to carry the HIV virus.

Around 725,000 people were registered to vote at 2,288 polling stations around the country.

Parliament is made up of 57 parliamentary seats with an additional four lawmakers appointed by the president and the winning party will need 29 seats to name their president.