Thumbs up for Lesotho elections as results trickle in

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SADC Election Observation Mission Maite Nkoane-Mashabane is seen at Lesotho Sun on 02 March 2015. She was announcing the missions preliminary report.

MASERU - The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Election Observation Mission declared the Lesotho February 28 election transparent, credible, free and fair.

This was the word from mission head and South African International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane.

She was announcing the mission’s preliminary results on Monday – two days after the vote.

By 6pm on Monday – results from 76 of the 80 constituencies had been announced by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) constituting 95 percent.

Prime Minister Tom Thabane’s All Basotho Convention (ABC) was in the lead with 40 while former prime minister Pakalitha Mosisili’s Democratic Congress (DC) received 33 and Deputy prime minister’s Lesotho Congress for Democracy has received two.

Once the constituencies are done, the calculation of the proportional representation then begins – these constitute 40 seats in parliament to make up 120 seats in the National Assembly.

Eighty-two SADC members from 11 member states were part of the mission.

“The SEOM urges all political parties, and candidates to accept the outcome of the election and encourages all political parties or candidates that may wish to challenge the election result to do so in accordance with the law of the country,” said Maite Nkoana-Mashabane.

She said going into the election, despite political tensions, it was peaceful.

“The pre-election phase was characterised by a generally calm and peaceful political atmosphere. Political rallies were peaceful and there were no violent incidents observed,” said the minister.

With concerns over post-results reaction, the international relations minister says all political parties must accept the outcome of the results.

She said Lesotho security forces have committed to bringing stability to the tiny mountain kingdom.

“The general who now leads the defence force who recommitted to serving the government of the day under whoever the people of Lesotho would have decided through this process. The same applied to the acting commissioner of police,” she said.

But the African Union Election Observation mission has raised concerns over reports of politicised security agents – caught up in political tensions.

Head of mission - former Kenyan prime minister Raila Odinga has described the relationship between forces as characterised by tension despite the signed Maseru peace accord.

“These tensions were caused by differences between coalition government partners, which stifled government operations and drew in the different security agencies into the political conflict thus compromising their ability to discharge their constitutional obligation,” he said.

But the AU mission head said the fundamental issues in the country need to be addressed.

“The AUEOM further notes that the root causes of the political and security challenges still need to be comprehensively addressed in the immediate post-election phase.”

With tensions between the country’s security agents seemingly unresolved, security is still tight as results come in.

But the Lesotho Congress for Democracy and Democratic Congress members are already celebrating – an expected coalition to secure leadership.

On Monday, they drove through the streets of Maseru in a convoy hooting and singing.

They said they were optimistic the likely coalition will lead the country.

But that remains to be seen as prime minister Tom Thabane’s All Basotho Convention party has held the lead in constituency results.

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