Another coalition looms in Lesotho

 

Another coalition government is expected in Lesotho as no party secured a majority vote in the February 28 elections to form a government on its own.

The final results of Lesotho’s general elections showed no outright winner as the ruling All Basotho Congress party narrowly edged out its nearest rivals in the poll.

The election was called two years earlier to do away with a coalition government, characterised by bickering among the partners in the unity government.

Incumbent Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s All Basotho Convention has won 40 out of 80 constituencies with the Democratic Congress taking 37.

Two other parties hold the other three constituencies, meaning a coalition must be formed.

The final composition of the 120-member parliament was not yet known at the time of going to print as 40 seats were to be allocated using the proportional representation system. A total of 23 parties contested the elections.

The total number of votes cast on the party ballot is divided by the 120 seats at stake in the National Assembly to determine how many seats each party deserves to receive.

This number is then compared to the seats a party won in the constituency list to determine how many seats it should be awarded in the party list.

For example, if a party is determined to deserve 20 seats but has won only 10 in the constituency elections, it will be given an additional 10 seats.

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Electoral Observation Mission (SEOM) said the elections in Lesotho were transparent and fair.

“Based on its observations, the SADC Electoral Observation Mission concludes that the 2015 National Assembly Elections in the Kingdom of Lesotho were peaceful, transparent, credible, free and fair, thus reflecting the will of the people of the Kingdom of Lesotho,” SEOM head and South African International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane  said.

“In this regard, SEOM urges all political parties and candidates to accept the outcome of the election and encourages any political party or candidate that may wish to challenge the election results to do so in accordance with the laws of the country.”

Nkoana-Mashabane commended and saluted the way the people of Lesotho conducted themselves during the elections. She said voters stood in long queues in a “dignified way” while they waited their turn to cast their vote.

“The SEOM takes this opportunity to assure the people of Lesotho of SADC’s commitment to walk with them in search of a lasting and sustainable peace.”

Lesotho was scheduled to hold elections in 2017 but due to problems in the coalition government that led to the deterioration of the political and security situation, SADC facilitated a process to find political and security stability.

“The SEOM observed that the pre-election phase was characterised by a generally calm and peaceful political atmosphere. Political rallies were peaceful and there were no violent incidents observed,” said Nkoana-Mashabane.

Polling stations opened on time at 7am and the layout at most polling stations promoted easy flow in the voting process until closing time. Most polling stations closed at 5pm and voters who were still in queues were allowed to vote afterwards.

Nkoana-Mashabane said there were no incidents of violence reported by SEOM observers.

“In the course of observing the elections, the SEOM noted that there was general adherence to the relevant national legal instruments as well as the SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections,” she said.

South African Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa was expected to visit Maseru in his capacity as the SADC Facilitator to Lesotho following the conclusion of the elections which were declared credible, free and fair by the SADC, AU, Commonwealth and EISA election observer missions.

Lesotho has a bicameral Parliament consisting of the Senate with 33 seats and the National Assembly with 120 seats.

The monarch is hereditary and under traditional law only the college of chiefs has the power to depose and/or invest a monarch.

In the Senate, 22 members are hereditary while the remaining 11 members are nominated by the monarch. They are both expected to serve five-year terms.

National Assembly members are elected by direct popular vote using the mixed member proportional system.

Under this system, 80 parliamentarians in single-member constituencies are chosen using the first-past-the-post system while the remaining 40 are elected from one national constituency using party-list proportional representation.

The latter is used to determine the number of seats each party would receive if the system was fully proportional.

March 2015
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