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King to announce poll date this week

 

. . . as election ‘likely’ to be held on 28 February 2015

Billy Ntaote

KING Letsie III is this week expected to announce the date for Lesotho’s snap election following Friday’s dissolution of parliament.

The proclamation would be either tomorrow or Tuesday, as the Electoral Act stipulates the schedule should be announced within four days of the dissolution.

It is expected the poll would be held on 28 February 2015, according to sources who have met Southern African Development Community (SADC) Facilitator, Cyril Ramaphosa, since he began mediating to ensure the country’s return to stability three months ago.

The South African deputy president was appointed SADC facilitator to Lesotho in September this year after it became clear the coalition government partners — Prime Minister Thomas Thabane, Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing, and Sports Minister Thesele ‘Maseribane — could no longer work together due to sharp differences over the extent of their respective powers in the alliance.

The mediation resulted in the Maseru Facilitation Declaration (MFD) signed on 2 October 2014 by the feuding government partners and other leaders whose parties are represented in the National Assembly. Under the MFD, parliament was to be dissolved during the first week of December and an election held in February 2015, on a date to be announced by King Letsie III.

But according to sources who spoke to the Sunday Express on condition of anonymity yesterday, “the general feeling during Ramaphosa’s interaction with party leaders and other stakeholders, was that 28 February 2015, which is going to be a Saturday, would be an ideal date for the election”.

The Sunday Express was also told by the sources the registration of voters is expected to be suspended on 16 December to allow the finalisation of the roll.

Contacted for comment, Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) Spokesperson, Tuoe Hantši said: “According to the electoral law of Lesotho, the King announces the election date within four days of the dissolution of parliament.

“After the King announces the date, the election timetable would be published in a government gazette with clear indications of all the activities that the IEC would be undertaking going towards the polling day. We would only be able to know the exact timetable after it has been gazetted.”

Meanwhile, Mr Ramaphosa is expected back in Lesotho on Tuesday this week to continue his facilitation in the lead up to the election.

Among the issues the SADC facilitator is expected to address is failure by the Lesotho Defence Force and Lesotho Mounted Police Service to agree on a working relationship in line with the Maseru Security Accord (MSA).

The accord, signed on 23 October 2014 and facilitated by Mr Ramaphosa, sought to ensure the restoration of cordial relations between the two security agencies.

However, the two agencies could not agree on a joint action plan they were supposed to sign a fortnight ago, and Mr Ramaphosa is expected to help finalise an agreement acceptable to both parties.

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