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Whitehorse Party sues IEC

Nat Molomo

MASERU –— The Whitehorse Party is suing the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) for allegedly barring its candidates from standing in the May 26 election.
In papers filed at the High Court on Friday, Whitehorse Party leader Mohau Thakaso says his party was now effectively out of the electoral race after the IEC bungled its application to participate in the election.
He says the IEC failed to submit nomination forms for the party’s candidates and for the proportional representation seats.
The application will be heard in the High Court tomorrow.
The Whitehorse Party says some annexures submitted to the IEC did not have the party’s logo and that this error was of the IEC’s making.
“As a result of the error . . . when members were registering the returning officers had to confirm with the respondents first before they could register all our members by telephoning respondent that our party exists,” Thakaso said.
“As a result of this error by the respondent (IEC) more than 80 percent of our candidates have not been able to register throughout Lesotho,” he added.
Thakaso wants the High Court to direct the IEC to allow him to field candidates in all constituencies.
He says the IEC’s decision to bar his party from participating in the election should be declared null and void.
He says this is because the Whitehorse Party was registered in terms of the laws of Lesotho under registration number 2012/80.
The party was registered with the registrar-general on February 29 and with the IEC on April 17, 2012.
Following the registration, the party says it submitted nomination forms for its candidates throughout the country as well as a list for the proportional representation system.
Thakaso alleges that on February 29 after registering with the Registrar General’s office, they submitted an application to the IEC on March 1.
The party then had a meeting with the IEC on March 13 in which the commission noted that the Whitehorse Party had to amend its constitution to comply with some legal requirements.
“On April 4, 2012 we had substantively complied with those requirements for registration,” Thakaso says.
However, three weeks after that submission the IEC rejected close to 100 names of the 500 that the party had submitted to qualify for registration, he claims.
He adds that although they managed to register with the IEC on April 17, it was not possible to submit the names of their candidates to the commission the following day, which was the deadline that had been set by IEC.
According to Thakaso, members of the party decided to approach the court after they were informed by an individual within the IEC that the commission was intending to bar their party from participating in the general election.
He said after writing a letter to the IEC commissioner, Fako Likoti, the Commission convened a meeting with their party on April 15.
The party was registered on April 17.
“I submit that in the circumstances it became politically impossible to have names of the applicant’s candidates submitted to the respondent on April 18th 2012.”
Thakaso states that it was the conduct of the IEC that led to their failure to submit the lists on time.
A party candidate, Ramathibeli Mpoko, in his affidavit says he registered as a candidate for Berea Constituency on April 18, but his registration was rejected by the IEC.
Mpoko says the IEC rejected his application on the grounds that his nomination form did not bear any party symbol.
“This means I will no longer be able to stand for the general elections unless this honourable court intervenes.
“I share this fate with multitudes of our party’s candidates throughout Lesotho,” he submits.

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