In Africa’s year of elections, with democracy in retreat in many parts of the continent, Lesotho is a pygmy beside giants like Nigeria and other larger nations facing votes. But many observers are watching the small mountain nation as it heads to the polls Saturday, one of just a handful of African countries that in the past has seen a peaceful democratic handover of power from one party to another. Lesotho’s democratic credentials are in question after an attempted coup in August forced Prime Minister Tom Thabane to flee the country. Saturday’s balloting is supposed to resolve the crisis, if friction between political opponents and rival branches of the security forces doesn’t derail the process. Among the other countries facing elections this year are Sudan, Ethiopia, Ivory Coast, Tanzania, Mali, Burkino Faso, Burundi, Chad, Niger, Mauritania, Guinea, Central African Republic, Togo and Mauritius.
Articles about voting issues in the Kingdom of Lesotho.
The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) of Lesotho says a cross section of citizens will participate in planned advance voting on Saturday ahead of the February 28 general election. Lesotho’s electoral law stipulates that security forces, nurses, media houses, embassy officials and officers from the electoral commission who will be on duty on election day, are permitted to vote ahead of a scheduled general election. Tuoe Hantsi, spokesman for the electoral body, says the IEC is ready to administer a transparent and credible election. “The [IEC] is so ready. All is in place. The materials have been sent to the stations where the voting is going to take place. The main one on the 28th,” said Hantsi. “The politicians all stakeholders are now together and would see to it that we are having a successful election on the 28th.”
In the first few months after Lesotho’s crisis in August, much of the blame was pinned on the aggression of the country’s military commander, Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli. But now, just days before the kingdom’s February 28 election aimed at resolving the impasse, there are indications that Prime Minister Tom Thabane may have an entire rogue military on his hands. The August 30 coup attempt saw Lesotho Defence Force soldiers chase Thabane from his official residence across the South African border. Simultaneously, troops attacked three police stations, killing one officer and injuring nine others. For South African Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, the lead mediator in the crisis for the Southern African Development Community (SADC), a crowning achievement came in November when he exiled Kamoli from Lesotho.
Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa was happy with preparations ahead of Lesotho’s elections scheduled for February 28, his spokesman Ronnie Mamoepa said on his return to South Africa on Saturday. Ramaphosa was visiting in his capacity as SA Development Community-appointed facilitator after an attempted coup in August which led to prime minister Tom Thabane fleeing for South Africa. Mamoepa said the latest visit included meetings with King Letsie III, representatives of the coalition government namely Thabane of the All Basuthu Convention (ABC), deputy prime minister Mothejoa Metsing of the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) and minister of gender and youth, sports and recreation Thesele Maseribane of the Basutho Nationa Party . Besides the coalition partners, he also met representatives of the non-governmental organisation sector, church leaders, and chiefs of security agencies the Lesotho Defence Force and the Lesotho Mounted Police Service.
Lesotho will go ahead with early elections as planned at the end of this month despite recent renewed tensions, South Africa’s presidency announced at the end of crisis talks with the kingdom’s premier on Monday. “The meeting expressed its confidence that the climate for the holding of elections on 28 February remains on course,” President Jacob Zuma’s office said in a statement. Zuma hosted the Monday talks in his capacity as chairperson of the peace and security section of the regional bloc Southern African Development Community (SADC). The talks were attended by Prime Minister Thomas Thabane and top officials from his troubled coalition government.
Two soldiers have been wounded and a private security guard killed during a shooting outside the presidential palace gates in Lesotho, adding to an already tense political climate ahead of elections later this month, an official said Monday. The two soldiers were attacked on Sunday by “renegade” soldiers who wanted to destabilize Lesotho ahead of the Feb. 28 elections, Thabo Thakalekoala, the prime minister’s press secretary said.
Lesotho’s opposition parties say they have formed a coalition government after Sunday’s inconclusive election. The leader of the All Basotho Convention, Tom Thabane told the BBC that he had reached an agreement with the Lesotho Congress for Democracy and two smaller parties. “We are going to have a vast majority in parliament,” Mr Thabane said. Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili failed to win an absolute majority in the weekend parliamentary election.
The party of the longtime prime minister won Lesotho’s parliamentary elections, according to complete results posted Tuesday on the website of the southern African country’s Independent Electoral Commission. Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili’s Democratic Congress won 41 of 80 seats, the simple majority needed to form a government, though it may need to form a coalition to consolidate power. The All Basotho Convention, the main opposition, had 26 seats. Shortly before Saturday’s vote in this nation of 2 million, Mosisili broke away from the Lesotho Congress for Democracy, which had been riven by an internal power struggle. The Lesotho Congress for Democracy had 12 seats while another opposition party had one according to the final results.
Hundreds of rival supporters packed out Maseru’s Manthabiseng Convention Centre on Monday, waiting (mostly) patiently to hear the final results of Lesotho’s general elections held on Saturday. Their waiting was in vain, however; official results will only be announced on Tuesday morning at the earliest, and that is only if the bad weather clears up and the helicopters are able to land in remote areas to collect the ballots. However, the result of the election is an open secret amongst party leaders and officials from Lesotho’s independent electoral commission, who told the Daily Maverick that Prime Minister Mosisili had edged his main opponent, Thomas Thabane, by just one constituency seat. This is based on the vote counts conducted in each constituency, which have yet to be verified or announced, but are unlikely to change.
Voters in the highland African kingdom of Lesotho went to the polls on Saturday in a wide-open election that analysts say could end without a clear result, as happened in 1998 when South Africa had to send in troops to quell unrest. The capital Maseru was quiet, with shops closed, as voters queued up on a crisp and clear southern hemisphere winter morning. Campaigning has been peaceful but a lack of opinion polls, and Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili’s decision to quit the ruling party and go it alone under the banner of the new Democratic Congress (DC) party, have kept the landlocked nation’s two million people on tenterhooks. “I decided to go to the polls because I want changes. We are tired of this government, we need changes,” said Mohato Bereng, a local chief, planning to vote for the Lesotho Congress for Democracy.