IEC can an­swer for it­self - Tha­bane

Lesotho Times - - News - Billy Ntaote

PRIME Min­is­ter Thomas Tha­bane says he has no in­flu­ence over the In­de­pen­dent Elec­toral Com­mis­sion (IEC) and can­not at­test to the com­mis­sion’s pre­pared­ness to de­liver a cred­i­ble elec­tion by 28 Fe­bru­ary 2015.

The pre­mier said this af­ter the IEC’S Abia con­stituency Re­turn­ing Of­fi­cer, Tautona Sekake, an­nounced the names of the 14 can­di­dates nom­i­nated to con­test in the con­stituency won by Dr Tha­bane in the past four elec­tions since 1998.

Dr Tha­bane, who is also leader of the All Ba­sotho Con­ven­tion, said the coun­try’s elec­toral man­age­ment body is em­pow­ered and au­ton­o­mous enough to be judged on its own as it does not an­swer to any other au­thor­i­ties be­yond it­self on the readi­ness to de­liver a cred­i­ble elec­tion.

This comes af­ter this news­pa­per pub­lished shock­ing rev­e­la­tions by IEC chair­man, Jus­tice Ma­hapela Le­hohla, on the coun­try’s pre­pared­ness for elec­tions in a se­ries of let­ters be­tween Jus­tice Le­hohla, Prime Min­is­ter Thomas Tha­bane and Law and Con­sti­tu­tional Af­fairs Min­is­ter Haae Phoofolo.

In the cor­re­spon­dence, Jus­tice Le­hohla, who was ap­pointed IEC chair­man in 2013, con­demns Le­sotho’s vot­ers roll which he says needs “ex­pert in­ter­ven­tion” to clean up.

He also high­lights the lack of fund­ing among the main im­ped­i­ments ham­per­ing the de­liv­ery of a cred­i­ble poll, adding that the elec­tions would be “at best highly im­per­fect or at worst as good as non-ex­is­tent.

How­ever, Dr Tha­bane said: “The IEC has told us that they are con­fi­dent and ready to de­liver a cred­i­ble, free and fair elec­tion by 28 Fe­bru­ary.

Dur­ing the ne­go­ti­a­tions to­wards re­solv­ing our dis­putes, they asked for a month more when it was said the elec­tion should be held as soon as pos­si­ble.

“I am also a con­tes­tant in this elec­tion, so the IEC would be well placed to re­spond to ques­tions about its readi­ness.”

Dr Tha­bane said if the IEC was ham­pered from de­liv­er­ing a cred­i­ble elec­tion, he, as a can­di­date con­test­ing the polls, “would also be among the vic­tims”.

He fur­ther said de­spite be­ing prime min­is­ter he did not have con­trol over the af­fairs of the IEC “as it is an in­de­pen­dent com­mis­sion with its con­sti­tu­tional au­ton­omy”.

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