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Lehohla queries IEC committee composition

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Bongiwe Zihlangu

 MASERU — Deputy Prime Minister Lesao Lehohla has questioned the criteria used to select members of an Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) committee to monitor elections.

The Lesotho Political Leaders Committee on Monitoring Elections was established this week to monitor the IEC’s implemantation of the electoral process.

The All Basotho Convention (ABC), Basotho National Party (BNP), Marematlou Freedom Party (MFP) and the Lesotho People’s Congress (LPC) each submitted two nominees for the committee this week.

Smaller parties also submitted two nominees each for the six-member committee.

The ruling Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) and its alliance partner the National Independent Party (NIP) were supposed to nominate two members but asked for more time to consider the candidates they have.

Lehohla however told a meeting of political parties on Thursday that he believed the committee had not been established according to what stakeholders had agreed on last week.

“It is clear that this committee has not been built in a manner that we had agreed on in the beginning. Its original composition has been altered,” Lehohla alleged.

“It would have been wise for some of us to have been provided with minutes detailing how the resolution to change the structure of the committee was finally reached.”

“One notes a pattern that might be adversarial. Will it (the committee) work on resolutions reached by consensus or is it going to be adversarial?” Lehohla charged.

“The fact that it’s going to have just two members from the LCD, NIP and government combined against all these other parties shows there’s going to be a problem.”

This committee will be dealing with sensitive electoral issues but the recipe used leaves doubt as to whether it will yield edible results or note, Lehohla said.

In this situation, Lehohla said, it is obvious that our only strength lies in the fact that we are government.

The committee’s main function is to work side by side with the IEC to monitor election processes within the electoral commission and report back to their political parties on a fortnightly basis “or whenever need arises”.  

LWP deputy-leader Sello Maphalla, attempted to allay Lehohla’s fears saying “there’s nothing underhanded about the composition” of the committee.

“The committee is going to work as an entity with the mandate to implement the terms of reference we have all agreed upon,” Maphalla said.

The committee will assess if the IEC, political parties and voters are ready to participate in the anticipated local government elections.

It is also expected to recommend workable mechanisms for promoting a working environment between IEC, political parties and government while still “guaranteeing the independence of the IEC”.

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