Lesotho Early Elections Underway
The early general election was called after an attempted coup was thwarted in August 2014.
Power wars between Prime Minister Thomas Thabane of the All Basotho Convention (ABC) party, Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing of Lesotho Congress Democracy (LCD) and Sports Minister Thesele 'Maseribane of Basotho National Party (BNP) has set the country into a politically unstable situation.
The last general elections were held in 2012 and saw the Democratic Congress party (DC), led by former Prime Minister Bethuel Pakalitha Mosisili capture the largest number of seats, but fail to get a majority.
Lesotho is home to some two million people, famously known as the Basotho people, with more than 50% living below the poverty line. The country also suffers Africa's third-highest HIV/AIDS rate.
After the 2012 general elections, three parties – All Basotho Convention (ABC), Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) and Basotho National Party (BNP) – formed the country's first coalition government.
The security forces have always played a part in politics in Lesotho resulting in a number of coups.
In August 2014, the military attacked the police headquarters in the capital Maseru. The Prime Minister fled to South Africa after a coup tip-off from his soldier bodyguards.
A South African government spokesman warned that South Africa would not tolerate "such unconstitutional change of government", but said taking military action was a "last resort".
South African Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa is the Lesotho peace process facilitator for regional bloc Southern African Development Community (SADC).
He has worked hard to reconcile the parties, convincing them to sign the Maseru Security Accord. He also succeeded in getting them to agree to bring the general election forward by two years under the Maseru Facilitation Accord.
Any Basotho national over 18 are eligible to vote on condition that they have been registered as voters. The electoral law says only public officers employed by the government abroad are eligible to vote abroad.
There will be 3,000 polling stations with 779 male and 337 female candidates to vote for.
Advance voting for those on duty during the vote day took place on February 21st.
Kenya’s former Prime Minister Raila Odinga is leading the African Mission in observing the elections.
By Wycliff Musalia
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