Mosisili claims elections rigged ……..appeals for SADC sponsored forensic audit

By Sechaba Mokhethi

Maseru – While conceding defeat in the June 3 Lesotho elections, leaders of the outgoing seven-party coalition claim the entire electoral process was rigged, and are calling for a forensic audit and a subsequent unity government.

Several days after the elections results were announced, leaders of the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD), the Democratic Congress (DC), the Popular Front for Democracy (PFD), the National Independent Party (NIP), the Lesotho People’s Congress (LPC) and the Marema-Tlou Freedom Party (MFP) are calling for an international inquiry into their allegations of massive fraud leading to victory by the Thomas Thabane-led coalition.

Thabane has since been declared Prime Minister by the State Council and was on June 16 sworn-in at a ceremony graced by, among others, Zambian President Edgar Lungu, Swazi Prime Minister, Sibusiso Dlamini, and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) facilitator and deputy president of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa.

The charge of foul play by six of the seven parties that formed the outgoing administration was followed by a lengthy letter to SADC chairman, King Mswati III of Swaziland, outlining areas of concern. The letter, penned by former Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili, has been signed by all the leaders and is copied to the chairman of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security, John Mugafuli, and African Union chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat.

Copies have also been sent to the United Nations secretary-general Antonio Guterres, the Commonwealth secretary-general Patricia Scotland as well as the ambassador of the delegation of the European Union to Lesotho, Michael Doyle. The hitherto defiant Mosisili appears calmer, and in the letter seeks the assistance and further expressed appreciation of the role SADC has played in the restoration of peace in Lesotho.

“Admittedly, SADC has done a lot for Lesotho in recent times, all with the aim of ensuring peace, stability and development in our country. We are much indebted to SADC and all its member states for this enduring effort and for the invaluable support given to our country.”

This is in sharp contrast to his earlier stance while in power, issuing a scathing letter to King Mswati III, accusing the regional bloc of impinging on Lesotho’s self-determination in its issuance of resolutions obliging Lesotho to honour. The move provoked Botswana to consider withdrawing its participation and contribution to the country’s peace building missions.

In this new twist of events, Mosisili has called on SADC to lead a forensic audit “which will establish the extent of these irregularities and thereby decide as to whether the results of this election are a true reflection of the will of the people of Lesotho”.

“In our view, there is sufficient evidence to conclude that these elections were rigged,” Mosisili charged, also calling upon the Lesotho Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to cooperate fully with this forensic audit.

These claims have, however, been shot down by the IEC – Mosisili and his cronies have not challenged the IEC on any platform over the accusations as provided by law.

The letter outlines several points the leaders consider indicative of a flawed electoral process, and these include:

Concerns about reports and clear evidence showing very serious anomalies. Also indicating that many of these anomalies were reported to the authorities of the IEC, all in vain.

That the IEC secretly continued to register voters many days after the deadline that is set for voter registration. And that even on Election Day some voters were inserted by hand into the voters roll and allowed to vote.

During election period one party (ABC) distributed a large variety of gift packages to voters at its rallies in broad daylight against the electoral code of conduct and the electoral act.

Busloads of voters were illegally transferred from their constituencies and moved to certain targeted constituencies to enable a certain party (ABC) to win those specific constituencies.

In some constituencies indelible ink was not available, and a much lower quality of ink was used leading to widespread multiple voting.

Having also ignored calls from both the local and international fronts for a government of national unity during his tenure, Mosisili further asks SADC to consider an all-inclusive government proposal for Lesotho.

“Our submission is that this is now an opportune time to consider putting in place such a government of national unity, seeing that no party would feel cheated since there is no outright winner, and most importantly, it would be the ideal type to drive the seminal reforms agenda.”

The deposed coalition leaders also hit back on South African Minister of Foreign Affairs, Maite Nkoana Mashabane, who earlier made a bold statement that South Africa would not allow a coup in Lesotho.

“This came as a great surprise to us. We can never ever consider a coup d’état as a solution to any problem in this country. Such irresponsible public utterances by a government minister of a neighbouring state are unfortunate to say the least.”

Provision by the South African police to now Prime Minister Thabane every time he came to Lesotho;  Thabane had been resident in the bordering South African town of Ficksburg during his time in exile in the country.

“We note that the leader of the All Basotho Convention, Thomas Thabane, frequently travels into the Republic of South Africa, and that when he comes back he is escorted into Lesotho by armed South African police.

We find this quite strange. We request that South Africa will exercise some restraint in this regard.”

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