Lesotho voters hoping to restore stability after coup attempt

2015-02-28 09:26

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

The people of the southern African mountain kingdom of Lesotho began voting this morning in early parliamentary elections aimed at restoring stability following a coup attempt.

Twenty-four parties are vying for support among the 1.2 million registered voters in the country, which is surrounded by South Africa.

The elections were moved forward by two years after soldiers were accused of attempting a coup on August 30 2014 surrounding Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s residence and police headquarters.

The army said at the time it only wanted to disarm rogue elements within the police force – but the Southern African Development Community (SADC) said the events resembled a coup.

Thabane fled to South Africa and returned to Lesotho under South African police escort.

The premier’s three-party coalition government had run into trouble in June 2014, when his deputy Mothetjoa Metsing announced a vote of no confidence against him, prompting him to dissolve Parliament.

Analysts say the strife could be related to Thabane’s anti-corruption campaign, which threatened to implicate Metsing. The deputy premier is under investigation over his alleged involvement in the coup attempt.

The 24 parties contesting the elections include Thabane’s All Basotho Convention (ABC), Metsing’s Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) and the smaller Basotho National Party (BNP), which form the coalition government.

The biggest party in the current Parliament is former prime minister Pakalitha Mosisili’s Democratic Congress (DC), which took nearly 40% of the vote in the 2012 elections, but did not join the coalition.

The DC and LCD have now grown close and it is thought possible that they could form the next coalition government.

The differences between the parties are historical rather than ideological, according to Dimpho Motsamai from South Africa’s Institute for Security Studies.

She said the government had focused on power struggles rather than on improving the lives of the people, nearly 60% of whom live below the poverty line, according to the World Bank.

The main political parties have their allies in the security forces, with many in the police seen as siding with Thabane while Metsing enjoys support within the military.

The army pledged to remain in their barracks to calm fears of post-election violence, which is not uncommon in Lesotho.

South African Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, who helped to mediate in the Lesotho crisis on behalf of the SADC, said he was “encouraged by the huge turn-out of the masses of the people of Lesotho at electoral political rallies which took place under peaceful conditions.”

The first election results are expected tomorrow and the final ones by Thursday.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.