Lesotho opposition parties form coalition government

Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
The Democratic Congress (DC) party came first by one parliamentary seat

Five opposition parties in Lesotho have formed a new coalition government after snap elections over the weekend failed to produce an outright winner.

The poll was intended to ease tensions after an attempted coup last August.

The All Basotho Convention of outgoing Prime Minister Thomas Thobane came second with 46 seats.

Pakalitha Mosisili's Democratic Congress was narrowly ahead with 47 seats and formed a majority of 61 with other smaller parties.

Analysis: BBC's Nomsa Maseko in Maseru

Image source, AP

Even though politicians showed a level of maturity during the elections, Lesotho still faces underlying unresolved issues that triggered last year's crisis.

The country urgently needs institutional reforms which clearly articulate the role of the police and the army - and the role of the opposition in parliament.

But the coalition partners would need a two-thirds majority to amend the constitution, which is unlikely given the strong opposition they will face from the party of the outgoing prime minister.

Lesotho may be a small country of just over two million people, but it is closely watched by South Africa as it produces water for the region's economic hub, which cannot afford further political instability. Lesotho's voters are also hoping politicians will put their differences aside and focus on creating employment for the youth and developing the country.

Announcing the final results, Lesotho's Independent Electoral Commission urged all parties to break away from a cycle of political intolerance.

Last year's power struggle polarised Lesotho's security forces, with the police believed to have sided with Mr Thabane and the army seen as backing his deputy, Mothejoa Metsing who leads the Lesotho Congress for Democracy.

Mr Metsing will remain deputy prime minister as his party has joined the new coalition with its 12 seats in the 120-member parliament.

The army was confined to barracks for the election, which observers said was free and fair. The regional bloc Sadc deployed 475 police officers to provide security.

Lesotho parliamentary poll results

Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
About 1.2 million people were registered to vote
  • Democratic Congress (DC): 47
  • All Basotho Convention (ABC): 46
  • Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD): 12
  • Basotho National Party (BNP): 7
  • Popular Front for Democracy (PFD) - 2
  • Reformed Congress of Lesotho (RCL) - 2
  • Four other parties (BCP, LPC, MFP, NIP) - 1 each

Source: Lesotho's Independent Electoral Commission

Mr Mosisili, who served as prime minster from 1998 until 2012, said the mistakes of Mr Thabane would not be repeated by the new government.

Lesotho is completely surrounded by South Africa, which played a key role in mediating last year's political crisis.

It started when Mr Thabane suspended parliament to avoid a motion ousting him as the head of the coalition.

He later fled, saying he was the target of a coup attempt, after the military attacked the police headquarters.

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