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IEC must be restructured: BNP leader

MASERU — The Basotho National Party (BNP) leader, Thesele ‘Maseribane, says the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) must be restructured immediately to avoid disputes in future elections.
To achieve this, ‘Maseribane said, Lesotho should familiarise itself with methods used by other African countries when establishing electoral commissions.
“We can point out countries such as Mozambique, whose electoral commission is composed of political party representatives as they are major stakeholders of elections,” ‘Maseribane said in a press statement on Friday.
He also slammed Lesotho for using a permanent IEC instead of a temporary body “which works only during the election period”.
“Electoral commissions are not supposed to work continuously but only during the prescribed election period,” ‘Maseribane said.
“Other activities such as the registration of voters must be handled by the commission’s workers who will be considered the electoral body’s secretariat.”
“These suggestions should be implemented while there’s still time so that we don’t delay the 2012 elections unnecessarily,” he added.
“This will also pave the way for us to devise strategies to establish a new IEC.”
‘Maseribane said the new IEC should be autonomous enough to control its own budget.
“IEC is not financially independent. It does not have absolute control over its budget,” he said.
“If it achieves absolute autonomy, this will change our long held view that the IEC acts in favour of government. A new IEC could be more independent and bring satisfaction to many in terms of how elections are run.”
The BNP leader added that the IEC should show its independence by employing its own staff instead of using government personnel.
‘Maseribane’s statement follows a closed meeting on Wednesday between the electoral commission, government and opposition parties, in which political leaders told the IEC to clean up its act.
The meeting was attended by the ruling Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) deputy leader Lesao Lehohla, All Basotho Convention’s Thomas Thabane, Marematlou Freedom Party’s Moeketse Malebo, Popular Front for Democracy’s Lekhetho Rakuoane and Lesotho Workers Party’s Sello Maphalla.
One of the leaders present in the meeting who sought anonymity, told the Sunday Express that even the LCD came down hard on the IEC for its failure to register scores of voters due to lack of proper and functional mobile registration units (MRUs).
“Ntate Lehohla and Ntate Metsing admitted that the IEC had also failed the LCD. They were not happy at all,” the source said.
However, the source added, “Thabane, ‘Maseribane and Malebo took the attack further by suggesting that the electoral commission be disbanded”.
“They were however overruled by the majority including government who called for the commission to be given another chance to make amends,” the source said.
The source added that all stakeholders agreed to seek assistance from the Commonwealth and the United Nations Development Programme.
“We agreed we would approach hese two bodies and others on how they can help us improve and develop the IEC and put it in a better position to manage next year’s election,” the source said.
He added that the political leaders are expected to meet again tomorrow to formulate an official document on the way forward.

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