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Lesotho held its closest general elections last Sunday May 26, 2012. The current Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili won the election for the fourth time and his party also took 41 seats in the National Assembly.
Mosisili’s party, The Democratic Congress, holds the simple majority to needed to run the government. The leading opposition party, All Basotho Convention, won 26 seats in the lower house although Thomas Thabane lost the election for Prime Minister.
The Lesotho Congress for Democracy gained 12 seats while the final opposition party won the last seat. The Lesotho Congress for Democracy is Mosisili’s former party and under which he won the 1998, 2002, and 2007 elections. The Democratic Congress, Lesotho Congress for Democracy, and All Basotho Convention originally came from the same party which means that they do not have significantly different positions from each other.
Lesotho, “the world’s highest country”, is a constitutional monarchy with a bicameral legislature, but only the lower house, the National Assembly, is elected; the Senate, the upper-house, is appointed.
All of the parties are trying to address the greatest issues at stake in the country. Currently poverty and lack of employment are the greatest threats.
Mosisili has been blamed for not emphasizing the development of mining in the country, one of its main resources, but these economic problems are further exacerbated by Chinese immigrants and South Africa. Lesotho is surrounded by South Africa and Lesotho’s economy is dependent on South Africa hiring its people. However, with the decline in the global economy fewer Basotho (people of Lesotho) are being hired.
Lesotho also has a high rate of Chinese immigration. Many of the Chinese are creating businesses that are causing the local Basotho businesses to fail. This situation is creating a lot of tension between the Basotho community and the Chinese community in Lesotho. Only the All Basotho Convention has addressed this tension in its platforms which makes them somewhat unique in the country.
Another problem in the country that all of the parties are trying to address is the AIDS epidemic, specifically that over a quarter of the population is HIV positive. Additionally educational reforms need to be enacted and more schools are needed across the country.
According to the BBC, Tom Thabane, the head of the All Basotho party and former prime minister candidate, has formed a coalition of the All Bastho Convention, the Lesotho Congress of Democracy, and two smaller parties to create a greater majority than the Democratic Congress’s. According to Thabane, “We have gone way below what we were a few years ago, and that’s inexplicable…we put power in the hands of the wrong people and we are taking it away from them.”
In 1998 the elections, when Mosisili took power, were full of strife and coups. The end to this political instability came when the South African military intervened and started Lesotho on a path to democracy. Even though this election was a controversial one it has been reported as peaceful and credible according to allAfrica.com.