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Election observers’ job only half-done

HUNDREDS of thousands of Basotho trooped to polling stations yesterday to cast their votes in an election that has been widely praised as generally peaceful.
At the time of writing, there had been no major incidents of electoral mishaps across the country.
We want to congratulate Basotho for voting peacefully and shaming the prophets of doom who had predicted a bloodbath in the run-up to the election.
But we must not be carried away by these early successes.
We all know it is traditionally the post-election phase that has proven treacherous for Lesotho in the past.
Now that the people have spoken, we expect political leaders to listen to the voice of the people.
They must rise beyond their personal ambitions for power and demonstrate true statesmanship by graciously accepting the election outcome.
Any other option would be nothing short of treason.
With the actual voting now water down the bridge, Lesotho’s leaders must swiftly move forward to address the myriad of challenges that continue to haunt the country.
We are pleased that politicians had in the run-up to the election pledged to respect the will of the people. We now expect them to live up to their word.
The casting of votes was the simpler task.
The biggest challenge is now for the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to tabulate, verify, count and announce the results promptly
Such a transparent process will go a long way in assuring voters that their vote counted and that their wishes were respected.
Early indications suggested all the big players in this election are happy with the IEC’s conduct of the election.
We want to commend the electoral commission for a job well done.
The IEC has done a generally fantastic job in running an almost incident-free election.
The commission has demonstrated that it has the capacity to run a squeaky clean election and that it learnt from previous mistakes where there were shortages of ballot papers and other voting materials.
Once again, well done.
This election has been one of the most unpredictable in recent years. This is the whole point in holding elections.
The election has also been calm and peaceful.
We believe this is due to the presence of international and local observers who have been cajoling Lesotho’s political leaders behind the scenes to hold a free and fair election.
The sterling role they have played behind the scenes should not be overlooked.
We want to applaud these observers from the Southern African Development Community, the Commonwealth and the Electoral Institute of Southern Africa, and many others for playing such a critical role in nursing our democracy towards maturity.
But the job is only half-done.
We would be extremely disappointed if these observers now stampede to get out of Lesotho without ensuring the job is taken to its logical conclusion.
As we all know, Lesotho’s biggest challenges often come after the voting process.
We would want to urge these international election observers to stay put until after realising there is no whiff of trouble coming up from mischief-makers.
Flying out of Lesotho in the next few days would leave the job half-done.
However, we must add that while foreign observers can play their part in ensuring we have a free and fair election as Basotho, the onus to preserve and maintain the peace really lies with us as Basotho.
We believe the time has come for Lesotho to ditch “the sick man of the region” tag that has dogged the country for years.
We must ensure we have a peaceful post-election phase in line with the wishes of the 1.1 million Basotho who cast their votes yesterday.

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