Lesotho holds early elections
The people of Lesotho are going to the polls today, two years early. Lesotho’s Independent Elections Commission (IEC) describes the reason as “due to the challenges of the coalition government and unresolved political conflict between coalition partners, the main opposition in Parliament, and the deterioration of the security situation, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) facilitation advised that new elections will take place in February 2015.
Behind that statement there is more. Prime Minister Tom Thabane tried to prorogue parliament last year and ended up facing what looked remarkably like an attempted coup d’etat. Following the intervention of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), in the guise of the South Africans, a compromise general election was agreed.
There are 120 seats in the National Assembly of Lesotho and currently the Prime Minister’s All Basotho Convention (ABC) holds 30 of them. However, they are not the largest party. That privilege goes to the Democratic Congress (DC) of Pakalitha Mosisili which holds 48 seats. Pakalitha Mosisili has been Prime Minister from May 1998 until the 2012 general election when opposition parties including the ABC, a breakaway party from the LCD were able to break Mosisili’s grip on power.
The Democratic Congress itself is a breakaway group of the former ruling Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) which Mosisili led until it split over his refusal to cede power. Mosisili and the DC fought their first election in 2012.
The LCD came third in the 2012 election with 26 seats. A further nine parties took between one and five seats.
After the 2012 election, Tom Thabane was able to form a coalition with the LCD, Basotho National Party BNP – 5 seats), Popular Front for Democracy (PFD – 3 seats) and the Marematlou Freedom Party (MFP – 1 seat).
Of the 120 members of the National Assembly, 80 are elected in single-member constituencies and 40 by proportional representation in a single nationwide constituency using party lists.
There are 20 registered political parties and around 1.1 million eligible voters will go to the polls between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. local time.