Odinga to head AU Ob­server Mission to Le­sotho elec­tions

Lesotho Times - - Elections 2015 -

THE African Union (AU) has ap­pointed Kenya’s for­mer Prime Min­is­ter, Raila Odinga, to lead its Ob­server Mission to Le­sotho’s forth­com­ing gen­eral elec­tions.

Mr Odinga, who was Prime Min­is­ter from 17 April 2008 to 9 April 2013, is ex­pected to ar­rive in Le­sotho on 20 Fe­bru­ary 2015 and re­main in the coun­try un­til 3 March.

The con­ti­nen­tal bloc de­vel­oped a set of in­stru­ments pro­vid­ing bench­marks for the con­duct­ing of demo­cratic elec­tions. It recog­nises demo­cratic elec­tions as elec­tions that com­ply with th­ese stan­dards: con­ducted reg­u­larly in a free and fair man­ner, un­der demo­cratic con­sti­tu­tions, within a sys­tem of sep­a­ra­tion of pow­ers and by im­par­tial, well-funded elec­tion man­age­ment bod­ies.

Among other roles, the Ob­server Mission gath­ers in­for­ma­tion to make an in­formed judge­ment of elec­tions and in­ter­venes if rel­e­vant laws or stan­dard pro­ce­dures are be­ing vi­o­lated or ig­nored.

The mission’s man­date also in­cludes third-party in­ter­ven­tion in elec­toral dis­putes in a bid to find mu­tu­ally ac­cept­able out­comes. It also en­tails tech­ni­cal as­sis­tance and ad­vice to the elec­toral com­mis­sions.

Added to that, the mission also cer­ti­fies the va­lid­ity of the steps in elec­tion pro­cesses ei­ther prior to or af­ter the elec­tion has taken place.

Le­sotho goes to the polls on 28 Fe­bru­ary af­ter the All Ba­sotho Con­ven­tion ( ABC), Le­sotho Congress for Democ­racy (LCD) and Ba­sotho Na­tional Party (BNP) coali­tion gov­ern­ment, which came to power in June 2012 for a five-year term, col­lapsed late last year.

Le­sotho had been po­lit­i­cally un­sta­ble since Prime Min­is­ter and ABC leader Thomas Tha­bane, and LCD leader and Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Mo­thetjoa Mets­ing, fell-out (SADC).

Un­der the Dec­la­ra­tion, Par­lia­ment was to open on 17 Oc­to­ber and dis­solved on 5 De­cem­ber and snap elec­tions held on 28 Fe­bru­ary 2015. Ini­tially, Le­sotho was sup­posed to hold its gen­eral elec­tion in 2017 but af­ter the break­down of re­la­tions be­tween Dr Tha­bane and Mr Mets­ing, SADC bro­kered the MFD through South African Deputy Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa, in an ef­fort to defuse the in­creas­ingly volatile sit­u­a­tion.

Mean­while, a six-mem­ber del­e­ga­tion of the AU Ob­server Mission ar­rived in Maseru on Sun­day. Dur­ing its stay in Le­sotho, the mission will also meet var­i­ous stake­hold­ers to the elec­tions in the coun­try.

“In ac­cor­dance with the South­ern African Devel­op­ment Com­mu­nity (SADC) Prin­ci­ples and Guide­lines Gov­ern­ing Demo­cratic Elec­tions, un­der the pro­to­col on Pol­i­tics, De­fence and Se­cu­rity Co­op­er­a­tion, the SADC Elec­toral Ad­vi­sory Coun­cil (SEAC) has sent a Good­will and Pre-de­ploy­ment As­sess­ment Mission to Le­sotho to as­cer­tain the pre­pared­ness and readi­ness of the coun­try for hold­ing the forth­com­ing elec­tions,” read a state­ment is­sued on Mon­day by the Min­istry of For­eign Af­fairs and In­ter­na­tional Re­la­tions.

“The SEAC Mission pre­cedes the SADC Elec­toral Ob­ser­va­tion Mission which will be in Le­sotho from 13 Fe­bru­ary, 2015 to 04 March, 2015.

“The SEAC Mission, which ar­rived yes­ter­day on Sun­day 1 Fe­bru­ary, 2015, will be in Le­sotho un­til the 6 Fe­bru­ary, 2015 and com­prises two re­tired judges and a mem­ber of the SADC Sec­re­tariat namely, Jus­tice John Tendwa from the Repub­lic of Tan­za­nia, Jus­tice Esme Chombo from the Repub­lic of Malawi and Mr Elija Mun­yuki, a Tech­ni­cal Of­fi­cer from the SADC Sec­re­tariat.

“Dur­ing its stay in Le­sotho, the SEAC Mission will meet with var­i­ous stake­hold­ers in­clud­ing the Chair­per­son of the In­de­pen­dent Elec­toral Com­mis­sion (IEC), At­tor­ney Gen­eral, rel­e­vant Min­is­ters, the Chief Jus­tice, the Pres­i­dent of the Court of Ap­peal, the Chris­tian Coun­cil of Le­sotho, Po­lit­i­cal Par­ties, Non-gov­ern­men­tal Or­gan­i­sa­tions and the Me­dia.

“The Mission will also pay cour­tesy call on His Majesty King Let­sie III and The Right Hon­ourable the Prime Min­is­ter

On his part, Mr Ramaphosa has wel­comed the de­ploy­ment of the Elec­toral Ad­vi­sory Coun­cil, not­ing in a state­ment: “The ar­rival of the SADC Elec­toral Ad­vi­sory Coun­cil will add im­pe­tus to cur­rent prepa­ra­tions and ef­forts by the Le­sotho Elec­toral Com­mis­sion to de­liver cred­i­ble, free and fair elec­tions in which the peo­ple of Le­sotho can ex­press their demo­cratic will as part of ef­forts to re­store peace and sta­bil­ity in their coun­try.”

Kenya’s for­mer Prime Min­is­ter and op­po­si­tion leader Raila Odinga.

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