April 25, 2007

SADC urges political tolerance

Lesotho has the capacity to resolve its political problems if the adversaries set aside their differences and channel their energies towards peace and nation-building. This emerged from a mission to Lesotho in early April by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Ministerial Troika of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation. The ministerial troika "noted and commended the willingness expressed by all political parties and other stakeholders to engage in a dialogue in order to address the current political differences." "The ministerial troika further urged all stakeholders to ensure that the current political differences are resolved swiftly and peacefully to allow for continued peace, stability, sustainable development and prosperity for the Kingdom of Lesotho," the ministers said in a statement issued at the end of the visit.
The troika mission was a follow-up to a directive issued at the SADC extraordinary summit held on 29 March 2007 in Tanzania whereby the region's leaders directed for a ministerial delegation to visit Lesotho to assess the post-electoral political situation.
The contested Lesotho elections were won by the ruling Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD), which got 61 of the 80 contested seats and an additional 21 seats under the country's proportional representation system on the back of its alliance with the National Independent Party. This gave the ruling party more than 68 percent of the 120 seats in parliament. The opposition disputed the allocation of seats under the proportional representation system and called for a three-day strike. The main opposition party, the All Basotho Convention (ABC), got 17 of the contested parliamentary seats and a further 10 seats under the proportional representation system. The opposition claimed that the uncontested seats were unfairly allocated, a charge denied by the country's Independent Electoral Commission.
The mission met and received briefings from various stakeholders who included the Lesotho government, IEC, opposition political parties, the governing party, the diplomatic community accredited to Lesotho, the Lesotho Council of Churches, the former members of the Media Monitoring Panel and Election Facilitation Group as well as civil society.
Lesotho currently holds the rotating chair of SADC, with Mosisili being the chairperson of the organisation until August/September when he is expected to pass the leadership to Zambian President, Levy Mwanawasa. (Southern African News Features, Harare)

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