With 70 of the 80 constituencies reporting late on Monday, Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili’s Democratic Congress (DC) has taken 31 seats while the opposition All Basotho Convention led by Tom Thabane has 26, results showed.
Saturday’s vote was the most closely watched since 1998 when Mosisili came to power in polls that sparked a violent reaction from the opposition and triggered a South African military intervention to restore order.
The opposition Thabane’s party had the early lead on Sunday thanks to strong showings in urban centres, but the ruling DC closed the gap when results from rural areas of the landlocked country in Southern Africa began to trickle in.
Forty of Parliament’s 120 seats are awarded under a proportional representation system and with tallies still due from only 10 constituencies, no party will score enough to form a government alone.
Even if the ruling party were to carry all remaining constituencies it would only gain 41 seats and 60+1 seats are needed to avoid a coalition.
Nthakeng Selinyane, a political science lecturer at the National University of Lesotho, pointed out the ruling DC party would still need 20 more seats and “it is unlikely that they will be allocated 20 compensatory seats”.
Political analyst Thabang Kuoe said the party with a simple majority will get first draw to pick a coalition partner.
“The question now is which party will the DC be willing jump into bed with and will that party agree,” he said.
“It is not going to be easy and it will be tough horse trading in my opinion,” said Majakathata Mokoena, an investment analyst.
“If you look into the changes that are happening in the country there is a definite democratic shift.”
Personal feuds among the three main party leaders have largely overshadowed the campaign in a country where more than half of the two-million-strong population lives in poverty.
Final election results are expected on Tuesday. – AFP