The elections in Lesotho were transparent and fair, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Electoral Observation Mission said on Monday.
The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) of Lesotho organised, conducted and delivered credible elections at a short notice, SADC Electoral Observation Mission (SEOM) head Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said in a statement.
“Based on its observations, the SADC Electoral Observation Mission concludes that the 2015 National Assembly Elections in the Kingdom of Lesotho were peaceful, transparent, credible, free and fair, thus reflecting the will of the people of the Kingdom of Lesotho,” the South African international relations minister said.
“In this regard, SEOM urges all political parties and candidates to accept the outcome of the election and encourages any political party or candidate that may wish to challenge the election results to do so in accordance with the laws of the country.”
On behalf of the SADC organ on politics, defence and security operation and President Jacob Zuma, Nkoana-Mashabane commended and saluted the way the people of Lesotho conducted themselves in Saturday’s elections.
She said voters stood in long queues in a “dignified way” while they waited their turn to cast their vote.
“The SEOM takes this opportunity to assure the people of Lesotho of SADC’s commitment to walk with them in search of a lasting and sustainable peace.”
Nkoana-Mashabane said Lesotho was scheduled to hold elections in 2017 but due to problems in the coalition government that led to the “deterioration of the political and security situation”, SADC facilitated a process to find “political and security stability”.
On February 18, the SEOM was launched and 82 observers from 11 SADC member states were deployed to the ten districts in Lesotho.
The SEOM paid courtesy calls to King Letsie III, Prime Minister Thomas Thabane, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Relations Kenneth Tsekoa, and the chairperson of the IEC Mahapela Lehohla.
“The SEOM observed that the pre-election phase was characterised by a generally calm and peaceful political atmosphere,” she said.
“Political rallies were peaceful and there were no violent incidents observed.”
On Saturday, the polling stations opened on time at 7am and the layout at most polling stations promoted easy flow in the voting process until closing time.
Most polling stations closed at 5pm and voters who were still in queues were allowed to vote afterwards.
She said there were no incidents of violence reported by SEOM observers.
“In the course of observing the elections, the SEOM noted that there was general adherence to the relevant national legal instruments as well as the SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections,” she said.
Heading for victory
On Monday, German press agency Deutsche Presse-Agentur reported that Thabane appeared to be heading for victory in parliamentary elections, winning 38 out of 60 constituencies where all the votes had been counted.
The main opposition party Democratic Congress, led by former prime minister Pakalitha Mosisili, was running second, winning 20 constituencies, DPA reported.
The Lesotho Congress for Democracy, led by Thabane’s deputy Mothetjoa Metsing, came third with two constituencies.
Votes still needed to be counted in 20 constituencies. It was expected that no party would get enough votes to govern alone and that Lesotho would get another coalition government. – Sapa