Old Rivals Resume Battle for Power in Lesotho's Snap Elections
Pakalitha Mosisili and Thomas Thabane will resume their long-running battle to lead Lesotho when the southern African mountain kingdom holds its third election in five years on Saturday.
Mosisili, the leader of the ruling Democratic Congress, served as prime minister from May 1998 to June 2012, when he lost power to Thabane, who heads the All Basotho Convention. Mosisili reclaimed the post in 2015 elections, but the opposition forced him from office after winning a motion of no confidence in his seven-party coalition government on March 1.
Mosisili, who draws most of his support from rural southern Lesotho, has pledged to introduce free high-school education, build a new railway and raise factory workers’ salaries by 9 percent. Thabane, who has strong backing in the capital, Maseru, and the north of the country, has said he’ll do more to stamp out state corruption and crime, raise old age pensions, invest more in agriculture and roads and assist the youth in starting businesses.
Voting will start at 7 a.m. local time and end at 5 p.m., with more than 1.2 million people expected to cast ballots. Twenty-seven parties and more than 40 independent candidates are vying for 120 seats in the National Assembly, which elects the prime minister.
Mosisili has entered into an alliance with Mothetjoa Metsing, the deputy prime minister, that will see the Democratic Congress contest 55 of the 80 constituencies and Metsing’s Lesotho Congress for Democracy the remaining 25. Thabane’s All Basotho Congress has struck a deal with three other parties to support each other in the vote for parliamentary seats and for the post of prime minister and his deputy.
One of the world’s least developed countries, Lesotho supplies water and labor to neighboring South Africa and exports textiles and mohair. It has a history of political instability and attempted coups.