Lesotho elections: Voters head to the polls


Young Basotho men journey along a road some 20 kilometers outside the capital of Maseru on May 25, 2012. On May 26, the people of Lesotho vote in the 2012 National Assembly elections.


Alexander Joe

Voters in the southern African mountain kingdom of Lesotho are heading to the polls to elect a new parliament this Saturday, Reuters reported. All 120 seats in the elected lower house known as the National Assembly are up for grabs.

Former Malawi President Bakili Muluzi, head of a Commonwealth observer team, told Reuters that he expects a large percentage of the landlocked nation’s 2 million citizens to turn out as South African pop stars helped drum up interest in political rallies this year. "It has brought a lot of excitement on the part of the people,” he said. “We think there will be a high turnout because people are very interested to see what is going to happen.”

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According to BBC News, there is no clear favorite among the three main parties – Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili's Democratic Congress (DC), Mothetjoa Metsing's Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) and Tom Thabane's All Basotho Convention (ABC). The three parties, splinters of the same party, stand for similar policies.

The DC has only existed since February, when Mosisili, who’s ruled for 14 years, left the LCD and created it, Reuters reported. That raises the possibility that the DC may win the most seats but without a clear majority, forcing the party to form a coalition with one of the other two main parties in order to form a government, according to Reuters.

Lesotho is generally peaceful, but in 1998, 58 locals and eight South African soldiers died in rioting and looting that broke out following an election that did not produce a clear winner, Reuters reported. Some are concerned it could happen again, the Economist reported.

According to the Economist:

Tensions have been rising ahead of the elections amid high-profile assassinations, clashes between party supporters and allegations of a mysterious “hit squad."

Anti-Apartheid activist Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a former pastor in Lesotho, and Basotho church leaders prevailed upon party leaders to sign a pledge in April agreeing to respect the results of the vote, the Economist reported.

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