THE China-Lesotho Friendship Association says peaceful and fair elections are vital for Lesotho’s progress along the path of democracy which is essential to continued economic and social development.
The country is set to hold elections on 3 June, its third in just five years as none of the governments have lasted for the five-year tenure.
The latest election will be held against the background of the opposition bloc’s successful no confidence vote which toppled the Pakalitha Mosisili-led seven parties’ coalition government in March.
King Letsie III subsequently dissolved the Ninth Parliament and proclaimed 3 June as the date for snap polls- dealing a blow to the opposition’s hopes of installing Alliance for Democrats (AD) leader Monyane Moleleki as the next Prime Minister for an 18-month period after which he would be succeeded by All Basotho Convention (ABC) leader, Thomas Thabane.
And in the aftermath of His Majesty’s proclamation there has been heightened political activity as the parties hit the campaign trail.
It was against this background that China-Lesotho Friendship Association Secretary, Barry Hu recently told the Sunday Express in an exclusive interview that China was part of the international community that supported democracy programmes in Lesotho hence their expectation of peaceful and fair elections.
Mr Gu said peaceful elections were important as violence would jeopardise the country’s economy, adding all the hard work and efforts of Basotho and the international community over the past few years would have been in vain.
“I have been in this country for a long time with other Chinese and we wouldn’t want to see Basotho suffer because of something they could have avoided,” Mr Gu said.
“We all know that when countries go for elections we will have a winner and losers so those who will lose in the coming elections have to do the mature thing and accept defeat, move on and give the winner a chance to work without causing havoc.
“This country needs peaceful and fair elections because we do not want to see good businesses that have accommodated a large population of Basotho decline and it will be a big disadvantage for a developing country like Lesotho for things to go wrong just because of people who will not accept defeat.
“The country’s economic development would decline as it would lose investors who create job opportunities for many Basotho as well as development partners who assist the government of Lesotho. I’m sure no one with a sound mind would want that.”
He said the Chinese community supported democracy and theirs was not to take sides but support the government of the day.
“Ours is to support whoever who is the leader of the government and work with them where they need our support to benefit Basotho,” Mr Gu said, adding they cared so much about Sino-Lesotho relations hence the establishment of the association in 2015 to address various challenges such as poverty as well as foster cultural exchange.
“We established the association because we are a large community in Lesotho doing different businesses and it was only fair that we think of the (Basotho) people who are always by our side.
“We support poor families, specifically orphans and vulnerable children and as well as charities through cash donations. We held a golf tournament last week to raise funds that went to Her Majesty’s Trust,” Mr Gu said.
He said while it was understandable that there were times when people of different cultures and customs would clash, it was however, important to resolve such misunderstandings hence the establishment of the association to foster cordial relations.