The Democratic Congress of Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili took 41 of 80 directly elected constituencies in the 120-seat Parliament but now has to woe opposition parties to form a government.
The remaining 40 parliamentary seats are awarded proportionally to parties according to the number of votes they won nationally in the tiny mountain kingdom surrounded entirely by South Africa.
A party needs 61 or more seats to govern alone but the DC is unlikely to muster 20 more.
The main opposition All Basotho Convention (ABC) took 26 constituencies while the former ruling Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) took 12 and the Popular Front for Democracy managed only one.
Mosisili formed the DC in February after leaving the LCD, which brought him to power in the 1998 elections violently disputed by the opposition.
The ABC performed strongly in the cities, reflecting dissatisfaction amongst urban voters with the LCD and DC, but Mosisili regained his dominance through strong rural support, which made up two-thirds of his party’s constituencies.
But an analyst said the results showed the DC had failed in the most contested election in the constitutional monarchy in 14 years.
“This win means very little for the DC as they have basically lost,” said professor Kopano Makoa of the National University of Lesotho. – AFP