February 8, 2008

SADC efforts to end political tension fail

Efforts by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to ease political tension in Lesotho after a disputed parliamentary election have not worked, the SADC-appointed mediator, former Botswana President Ketumile Masire, has announced. According to him, talks between the ruling Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) and opposition parties had failed.
The LCD and opposition parties have been arguing over parliamentary seats since elections in February. Lesotho introduced a mixed electoral system in 2002 to ensure smaller parties could enter parliament, after a disputed result in 1998 almost led to a military coup. Eighty seats were put up for direct contest and a further 40 were allocated according to how parties fared in the ballot. The ruling LCD won 61 of the directly contested seats and made a deal with the smaller National Independent Party to get control of a further 20 of the apportioned seats. Some opposition parties have challenged this in court. "Once the court case is over, I'll come back to Lesotho to see that this is definitively completed," Masire said. (rts)

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