Independent Online

Africa | 6 June 2017, 05:34am

by Basildon Peta

Main opposition leader Thomas Thabane had won the most seats in Lesotho’s general elections, clinching 48 of the 80 directly contested constituencies by last night. File picture: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters

Maseru – Main opposition leader Thomas Thabane had won the most seats in Lesotho’s weekend general elections, clinching 48 of the 80 directly contested constituencies by last night while his arch-enemy and current Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili had won only 16 seats.

Another 40 seats, in the 120 member Parliament, will be allocated on a proportional representation basis.

Under Lesotho’s complicated mixed member proportional representation (MMPR) system, parties that don’t win in the constituencies get more PR seats as long as they meet the required thresholds of minimum votes for PR allocation after the ballots in all the contested constituencies are aggregated. So it is possible for a party that has not won a single constituency to get a substantial chunk of PR seats while a party that has won more constituencies automatically receives fewer PR seats.

This means that Thabane’s All Basotho Convention (ABC) will have to forge a coalition with other smaller opposition parties to oust Mosisili as the ABC is unlikely to win the 61 seats required for forming the government outright.

With 68 constituencies announced last night, Thabane had won 48 while Mosisili’s Democratic Congress (DC) had won only 16. The Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) of Deputy Prime Minister Methotjoa Metsing, which forged an electoral alliance with the DC, had won only one seat.

The recently formed Alliance for Democracy (AD) of former Home Affairs Minister Monyake Moleleki, who was also Mosisili’s deputy in the DC before he launched his splinter party, had won only one seat. The Movement for Economic Change (MEC), a splinter from the LCD, had won one seat with the Popular Front for Democracy (PFD) also winning one seat.

Under Lesotho’s constitution, the leader of the party winning most seats in the 80 contested constituencies is given the first right to form government. In this case, it is Thabane. His lead of 48 constituency seats is unassailable and he will likely form a coalition with the BNP and the AD to form the next government.

The final results the remaining constituencies and the PR allocations will be announced today (Tuesday).

The perennially unstable kingdom, wholly surrounded by South Africa, held snap elections at the weekend, its third in five years, after Mosisili lost a no confidence vote in Parliament on March 1 2017, and , instead of handing over power to the opposition, responded by dissolving Parliament and calling for fresh elections.

Lesotho has been in turmoil since renegade former army commander Tlali Kennedy Kamoli launched a coup attempt against then Prime Minister Thabane in August 2014. Thabane fled to South Africa and only returned under the heavy guard of the South African Police Service (SAPS).

Thabane had earlier ousted long time ruler Mosisili in elections held in early 2012. After the August 2014 coup attempt and after the collapse of his coalition with his then deputy, Metsing of the LCD, fresh elections were called for February 2015. Thabane narrowly lost those elections and Mosisili won back power after Metsing crossed over to join Mosisili in a new coalition government.

But that coalition collapsed after Moleleki, Mosisili’s deputy in the DC, defected with a number of sitting DC MPs and joined Thabane’s ABC in passing the 1 March 2017 no confidence vote against Mosisili.

Saturday’s elections were marred by the deployment of the army at polling stations, a move opposition parties and the IEC saw as an effort by Mosisili to intimidate voters.

Lesotho is a perennially unstable Kingdom because of the historical role of its army, which takes sides with politicians, and has been responsible for various coups.

A commission of inquiry established by SADC in the wake of the August 2014 attempted coup and the killing of former army commander, Maaparankoe Mahao, a Thabane ally, had recommended a rafter of security and political reforms to restore long-lasting stability in Lesotho. The reforms are yet to be implemented.

Independent Foreign Service