MASERU: Lesotho Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili emerged as the most powerful player in the country’s election, but failed to secure a wide enough margin to form a government, results showed yesterday.
The inconclusive results from the weekend election has left many in the landlocked southern African highland kingdom fearing a repeat of the violence that followed a disputed poll in 1998.
Mosisili, who has ruled for 14 years, saw his Democratic Congress party winning 41 of 80 constituency seats and seven proportional seats, with the 48 total seats falling short of the 61 needed to form a government. The opposition All Basotho Convention came in second, winning a total of 30 seats.
Three opposition parties have unveiled an anti-Mosisili coalition, setting the stage for a rerun of 1998, when post-poll wrangling led to weeks of unrest that ultimately triggered military intervention by SA and Botswana to restore peace. At least 58 locals and eight Sa soldiers died in that fighting and large parts of Maseru were damaged.
All Basotho Convention leader Tom Thabane said late on Tuesday was that the parties would form a 64-seat alliance, giving them a majority in the 120-seat parliament. Since independence from Britain in 1966, Lesotho has undergone several military coups, although the army and police told election monitors before the poll they would act professionally and not take sides.
Soldiers have been patrolling Maseru this week. It was not clear who had ordered them in.
Prolonged unrest would put a dent in the $4 billion (R33.7bn) economy, which is forecast to expand at 4 percent this year due to a boom in diamond mining and a recovery in the farming sector after serious flooding last year.
Besides a slice of regional customs receipts, Lesotho’s big earner is hydropower exported to SA from the high mountain lakes that have made it a favourite of trivia fans as “the world’s highest country” – its lowest point is 1 380m above sea level. – Reuters