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.
Mosisili’s DC is expected to do best but without a clear majority, analysts say. That would increase the chances of trouble if there is no deal on a coalition with either of the other two main parties – the Lesotho Congress for Democracy and the All Basotho Convention. “That would be a very disturbing scenario,” said Hoolo ‘Nyane, director of the Transformation Resource Centre, a Maseru think-tank.
A repeat of the 1998 political stand-off and subsequent fighting, in which at least 58 locals and eight South African soldiers died and large parts of Maseru were damaged, was “not completely unlikely”, he added. Results are expected to trickle into Maseru on Sunday but a final tally may not be known until early next week because of the remoteness of some communities in a rugged country with a poor road network.
Full Article: Lesotho holds tense election | Reuters.