SANF 17 no 22
All is set for national parliamentary elections in Lesotho on 3 June when Basotho will choose a new leadership for the country.
According to the Lesotho Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), a total 1,254,506 people have registered to vote in the landmark elections.
Regional and international election observers have been deployed across the country to observe the elections.
Observers from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Election Observer Mission (SEOM) are led by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation from the United Republic of Tanzania, Dr Augustine Mahiga.
The SEOM was launched in Maseru on 25 May, and as per tradition the observers will observe the elections in three phases: the pre-election period, election-day and post-election phases.
The SEOM is made up of 41 observers from various SADC Member States.
Speaking at the SEOM launch ceremony, Mahiga said preliminary observations indicate that significant progress has been made by all stakeholders to ensure that the elections are a success.
He said the IEC, working with various stakeholders, has taken the necessary measures to ensure that the SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections are observed.
“We, therefore, conclude that the Kingdom of Lesotho is generally prepared to hold elections on 3 June, 2017,” he said.
Mahiga, however, said it is critical for the country to resolve its challenges as a matter of urgency as the Kingdom has been holding such elections regularly without any lasting solution.
“It is our considered view that holding three elections within five years is a clear indication that the constitutional and institutional reforms need to be implemented in order to bring stability and predictability to the political system,” he said.
“SADC Member States have consistently urged the leadership in Lesotho to institute reforms in order to stabilize the government. We believe the hesitation and delay in implementing those reforms has greatly contributed to the current and previous crisis in the government.”
Since the general elections of 2012, Lesotho has experienced some instability, including an alleged coup in 2014 that was allegedly triggered when then Prime Minister Thomas Thabane, facing a vote of no-confidence, suspended Parliament after challenges in the coalition government that he had formed two years earlier.
An election, which was rescheduled for 2017, was advanced to 2015, and former Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili was elected Prime Minister.
However, the country slid back into a crisis when the Parliament passed a vote of no-confidence in Mosisili in February.
As per the constitution, King Letsie III called for an election on 3 June to choose a new leadership for the country.
Southern Africa has been seized with the process of ensuring political stability in the country.
The SADC Facilitator, South African Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, has led the regional effort to create peace and stability in Lesotho.
The mediation efforts saw the return of these opposition leaders in line with SADC decisions, which called upon the Government of Lesotho to facilitate their return, and allow them to actively participate in the reform processes.
The peaceful return was in line with the Maseru Facilitation Declaration and the Maseru Security Accord signed in October and November 2014, respectively.
According to the IEC, a total of 2,593 candidates from more than 20 parties and 45 independent candidates will take part in the 3 June elections.
Off these, 958 are men and 410 women, which amounts to 30 percent representation of women among the candidates.
This is, however, far below the target set by the Revised SADC Protocol on Gender and Development which envisages equal representation of women and men in politics and decision-making positions.
Lesotho has a bicameral Parliament consisting of a Senate with 33 seats and a National Assembly with 120 seats.
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.
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 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 monarchy is hereditary and under traditional law only the college of chiefs has the power to depose and/or invest a monarch.
The SEOM is expected to interact with other regional and international missions invited by the Kingdom of Lesotho to monitor the elections.
After the elections, the SEOM is expected to issue a statement on the conduct of the elections.
The expectations of the SEOM would be guided and measured mainly against provisions and requirements of the Constitution, as well as the SADC Treaty, the SADC Protocol on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation and the SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections. sardc.net