Pre-election coalition deals in Lesotho ′not set in stone′ | Africa | DW | 04.03.2015
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Pre-election coalition deals in Lesotho 'not set in stone'

Following general elections at the end of February, Lesotho's main parties are now looking for partners with whom they can form a coalition. What form that coalition will take is wide open, an analyst tells DW.

Results published on Tuesday (03.03.2015) show that Lesotho's Prime Minister Thomas Thabane has won a parliamentary election held on 28 February with a narrow majority. However his party, the All Basotho Convention (ABC), will not be able to govern alone and moves are now underway to form a coalition government.

The main opposition party, Democratic Congress (DC), led by former Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili, lost no time in announcing on Wednesday that it would form a coalition with several smaller parties, including the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD), led by former Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing.

Dimpho Motsamai, a researcher at South Africa's Institute for Security Studies, says this is certainly a possible scenario. She told DW that the Democratic Congress had gone into the elections with a coalition agreement with the LCD under its belt. "It just needs to find enough support to give it the required number of seats," she said.

However, all is not lost for the ABC, since "they still have the possibility of grouping the remaining parties together and seeing if they can make the requisite numbers to form government," Motsamai said.

A man on a horse against a background of Lesotho's mountain scenery

Lesotho is also known as 'the kingdom in the sky.' It is completely surrounded by South Africa

Attempted coup led to early elections

The tiny mountain kingdom of two million residents, which is surrounded by South Africa, last held elections in 2012. There was a peaceful transition of power and the country's first ever coalition was formed, raising hopes of stability. However, the three-party coalition ran into trouble in June 2014, when Thabane's deputy Metsing announced a vote of no confidence against the premier who thereafter suspended parliament.

Tensions rose further last August after soldiers reportedly loyal to the opposition took over the country's police headquarters and surrounded the residence of the prime minister. Thabane fled to South Africa, alleging he was the target of a coup attempt. He accused his deputy of working with the army to oust him - a charge Metsing and the military denied.

Thabane later returned under the protection of South African forces and negotiations mediated by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) led to elections being brought forward by two years.

Allegiances may change again

Agreements in Lesotho "are not set in stone," Dimpho Motsamai said, and there is still time for the parties who agreed to join forces with the DC to change their minds.

A confident-looking Thomas Thabane

Prime Minister Thomas Thabane is still hoping to stay in power

While Motsamai said the possibility of a DC/LDC government "is very high," she pointed out that "the law says that the process of forming alliances and coalitions should be completed within a period of 14 days after an election."

This means the ABC could still come up with a constellation that would keep it in power.

It is important, Motsamai said, to keep in mind the context in which the elections were held. That is mainly the coup attempt and LCD unhappiness with the ABC's corruption investigations, in which several LCD politicans were implicated.

In a nutshell, the main interest of all Lesotho's political parties is in "having a government that does not look into things that make them uncomfortable."

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