/ 7 November 2006

Lesotho opposition parties forge alliance

Three opposition parties in the tiny Southern African kingdom of Lesotho announced the formation of a new alliance on Monday to fight a general election which is due to take place next year.

The Alliance of Congress Parties (ACP) brings together three parties –the Lesotho People’s Congress, Basotholand African Congress and Basotho Congress party — which split from the ruling Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD).

One of the key figures in the new alliance, Basotholand African Congress leader Khauhelo Ralitapole, said the three factions ultimately wanted to become a single party rather than a mere alliance.

”This is a journey. We had problems as parties. We want to reconcile with each other and become one party. This may take some time and the cooperation of all is needed,” said Ralitapole.

Lesotho People’s Congress leader and former deputy premier Kelebone Maope confirmed that the ultimate goal was to ”consolidate, unify and integrate the constituent entities into one political party”.

The formation of the new alliance comes after the launch last month of the All Basotho Convention (ABC) party, led by the charismatic former foreign minister Tom Thabane, who is another defector from Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili’s LCD government.

The next general election was not originally expected to take place until the middle of next year but the recent political fluctuations have prompted speculation that Mosisili may ask King Letsie III to dissolve the 120-member Parliament and call an early poll. – Sapa-AFP