There was no “staying up late” the night of May 26 to hear the results of Lesotho’s national elections. The final verdict only came this week, fifteen days after Basotho went to the polls. Muddy mountain roads and remote polling stations are to Lesotho as hanging chads and voting machines are to America, and in such a tight race, voters here eagerly tuned into radio newscasts to find out how their favorite party fared as more constituencies reported daily.
When all the numbers were in, DC—the newly formed party of the long-standing Prime Minister—won more seats than any opposition parties, but not enough to form a majority parliament; think of is as a USA presidential candidate not quite hitting 270 Electoral College votes. Worse than no clear winner was the fact that Lesotho’s constitution doesn’t have very specific rules when it comes this kind of stalemate or “hung Parliament”. For a few days many wondered if Prime Minister Mosisili might engineer a way to stay in power. The main opposition parties announced they would do anything to prevent that from happening, and recognized that they had enough seats to rule if they combined their votes together. In a literal “the enemy of your enemy is your friend” move, runner-up ABC joined with underdogs LCD and BNP to form a coalition and a majority.
We’re not sure what the new ruling party might be called yet—may I suggest ANYTHINGTOBEATDC? The new Parliament met this past Wednesday to approve and swear-in a brand new Prime Minister, Ntate Tom Thabane (leader of ABC) and his deputy, Ntate Metsing (leader of LCD) and incumbent Mosisili offered his peaceful resignation. Mr. Thabane is popular among young urban voters and hopes to improve the economy and dire unemployment. There’s a long way to go, but a democratic government plays a big role in setting up the better policies to pave the way.
Like we hoped in our last entry, the leaders of Lesotho really did show their African neighbors something special in this election—the closest race in their history. Change in power came peacefully even if it was a bit ad lib at times. The whole saga has been really exciting to be around… we hope it makes Lesotho a better place.