Lesotho election outcome uncertain | Africa | DW | 29.05.2012
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Lesotho election outcome uncertain

Lesotho looks set for its first coalition government after closely fought general elections last weekend, with partial returns showing that no party would likely win a majority.

This election is the most closely watched since Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili came to power in polls in 1998 that were violently rejected by the opposition, sparking a South African military intervention to restore order. Mosisili threw open the race when he resigned from the ruling Lesotho Congress for Democracy amid a leadership squabble in February. He is running for re-election under the banner of his new Democratic Congress.

Hoolo 'Nyane is the director of the Transformation Resource Center, a think tank in the capital Maseru. Deutsche Welle asked him what was likely to happen if neither of the two parties achieved an absolute majority.

Hoolo 'Nyane: Our constitution says the person who will be the prime minister is the one who commands the majority of the members of the National Assembly. So if no person commands the majority of the members of the national assembly, political partiers will have to form a coalition. The process of coalition formation is the one that is not regulated by the constitution. We might have to seek recourse to the British convention where the incumbent prime minister is given the first opportunity to try to form the coalition, or the party of the person with most votes, or the most members of parliament, might be given the opportunity to form a government. The third option could be that a group of leaders who have been able to form a coalition first, may approach the Council of State and say that they constitute a majority in the National Assembly.

Is the country's democracy stable enough to cope with such uncertainties ?

A Lesotho election official makes a phone call as he waits for last minute voters near the eastern Lesotho town of Mokhotlong.

Most of Lesotho's two million people live in remote villages that have supported Mosisili in the past

Not quite! In fact, that is one cause for concern for our democracy, because we are not so sure if Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili has most votes, but not necessarily a majority, whether he will be able to concede and relinquish power. That is a critical question because if he refuses and interprets "majority" to mean "most votes" I think other political parties are going to revolt and become unruly that would be a recipe for conflict and disaster.

What will be the main challenges facing the new government ?

The new government will be confronted with the situation of unemployment in general and youth unemployment in particular. That is a very critical situation at the moment which is having an effect on issues such as crime and disease. Then there is the relationship between South Africa and Lesotho. Lesotho is situated at the heart of South Afirca, so South Africa is very hegemonic on Lesotho. Most of the people depend on South Africa for business and employment, so at the moment the relationship with South Africa is very, very tense. The Maseru government is not on very good terms with the South African government, which is another bad thing for the people of Lesotho, because the government of South Africa is tightening its grip on the border.

Interview: Mark Caldwell

Editor: Asumpta Lattus

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