A Basotho woman casts her vote at a polling station some 20kms outside Maseru on May 26, 2012. Polls opened in tiny Lesotho, where a series of party splits have resulted in three former allies fighting the closest general election since independence. Polls opened at 7:00am (0500 GMT) for 10 hours of voting in this mountainous kingdom where many people walked or rode horses on the cold, early winter morning to reach voting stations in schools and churches. AFP PHOTO / ALEXANDER JOE

Maseru - Malawi's former president Bakili Muluzi said on Saturday that he believes Lesotho's prime minister will step down if he loses this weekend's general elections.

Muluzi, who is heading the Commonwealth observer mission to Lesotho, said Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili had assured him that the election results would be respected.

“He told me he would be the first one to congratulate the winner,” Muluzi told AFP.

“Look, this is a good example,” he said, pointing to himself. “There is life after State House.”

Muluzi wrested power from dictator Kamuzu Banda in Malawi's first democratic elections in 1994, and then stepped down after two terms in office. Malawi last month had another democratic transition after president Bingu wa Mutharika died in office.

“When you leave office, if indeed you have been elected out of office, you must accept that, because you can't be there for life. One day you have to retire, isn't it?”

“The way that I saw it, it was a personal discussion that I had with him, I think that he will accept the results.”

Mosisili, in power since 1998, formed a new party to contest this election Saturday after a faction of the Lesotho Congress for Democracy tried to push him out.

His Democratic Congress is now in a three-way race with the LCD and the main opposition All Basotho Convention. Vote counting begins late Saturday, with final results expected by Monday. - Sapa-AFP