The recent snap parliamentary election has produced a seven-party coalition government in Lesotho, as all parties emerged from the February 28 vote short of a majority in the 120-member legislature. The balloting capped a close election intended to restore stability in the southern African nation.
Violence erupted there six months ago between the police and army following Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s decision to dismiss the army commander. In June, Thabane had temporarily suspended Parliament to forestall a change in government.
Following the August 30 violence, The Southern African Development Community, or SADC, mediated an agreement among Thabane’s coalition partners to reconvene parliament in order to prepare for the election two years earlier than scheduled to help end the crisis. Pakalitha Mosisili, who has served previously as Prime Minister will be named as Lesotho’s next Prime Minister. Prime Minister Thabane conceded defeat during a press interview on March 5.
International observers note that elections won’t resolve the root causes of Lesotho’s recent political challenges, as the country must still address security sector reforms and engage in constitutional, parliamentary and civil service reform.
The United States congratulates the people of Lesotho for participating peacefully in the voting. With important elections scheduled in Nigeria, Ethiopia, Burundi, Burkino Faso and other African nations this year, Lesotho has set an example of peaceful polling.
The United States shares the hopes of the Basotho that these elections will allow Lesotho to move beyond a period of political uncertainty and strengthen national unity. This commitment is essential to provide a foundation for an effective, accountable government that serves the needs of the people. We commend Lesotho’s Independent Electoral Commission for organizing a professional and well-run poll, especially in light of the compressed timeline.
SADC deserves great credit for supporting Lesotho’s peaceful election. We welcome its ongoing commitment to helping Lesotho strengthen its democratic institutions and rule of law. The United States remains committed to our strong partnership with Lesotho and to achieving our shared objectives of improved health, shared prosperity, and effective and accountable government.