Lesotho veterans lead race to be prime minister

2017-06-03 07:31
Tom Thabane. (File: AFP)

Tom Thabane. (File: AFP)

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Maseru - Two veteran former prime ministers lead the field in Lesotho's election on Saturday, in a vote likely to result in another coalition government for the landlocked mountain kingdom.

The country's political landscape has been do dominated for years by party splits and fragile coalitions. 

Pakalitha Mosisili

Mosisili, the 72-year-old leader of the Democratic Congress (DC) party, is running to serve as prime minister for the third time, having stepped down after losing a no-confidence vote in March.

He was first premier from 1998 to 2012, and returned to power in 2015 after a snap election.

Despite his long years in office, critics accuse him doing little to improve standards of living for the majority of people in the country who languish in poverty, and he is often seen as aloof.

His removal in March came after he failed to hold together his seven-party coalition as in-fighting overshadowed government business.

After returning to office in 2015, Mosisili styled himself an anti-corruption crusader.

The former university lecturer entered politics as a student in 1967, when he joined the former ruling Basutoland Congress Party (BCP).

In 1998 he was elected leader of Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD), after it split from the BCP.

Mosisili left the LCD to form the DC in 2012.

Thomas Thabane

Thabane, a former prime minister and leader of the All Basotho Convention (ABC), was targeted by a putsch in 2014, prompting him to flee to South Africa, where he lived in exile for two years.

The 77-year-old returned home in February, saying he still feared for his life.

Thabane came to power in 2012 as head of the country's first coalition government, formed after an inconclusive vote.

But the alliance was marred by political bickering, which culminated in the August 2014 coup attempt led by the army.

He sought exile in South Africa after soldiers attacked police posts and surrounded his official residence.

"I am taking a huge risk by going back to Lesotho," he told South African media outlets ahead of his return earlier this year.

"The threat on my life is still there. However, politics is a risky business."

An old hand in Lesotho politics, Thabane founded the ABC in 2006 after years of manoeuvring between parties.

He remains popular in urban areas, and a sea of supporters clad in yellow, the party's colour, gathered to welcome him upon his return.

He previously served as foreign minister and home affairs minister.

Monyane Moleleki

Moleleki, leader of the newly formed Alliance of Democrats (AD), defected from the governing coalition in December.

He joined Mosisili when he founded the Democratic Congress in 2012, before breaking away to form the AD.

"We have been in the politics of killing one another," the 66-year-old told supporters at his party's inaugural rally in January.

"We formed a new party because we want to end politics of hostilities."

As natural resources minister, Moleleki was accused in 2013 of abuse of office for facilitating a licence for a diamond mine.

He was acquitted of the charges in March 2017.

Selibe Mochoboroane

At 39, Mochoboroane, the former minister of small-business development, is the youngest of the main players.

He was secretary general of the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) until his ousting early this year.

In February Mochoboroane founded the Movement for Economic Change (MEC) -- yet another addition to the Lesotho's crowded political arena.

Described by an ally as "young, fresh, dynamic, innovative and unconventional", he hopes to draw support from young people in a country where veterans dominate politics.

Read more on:    pakalitha mosisili  |  tom thabane  |  lesotho  |  southern africa  |  lesotho elections 2017

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