Polls Le­sotho’s chance for progress - Mo­gae

Lesotho Times - - News - Keiso Mohloboli

FOR­MER Botswana Pres­i­dent Fes­tus Mo­gae, who is lead­ing the Com­mon­wealth elec­tion ob­server mission to Satur­day’s polls, has said the group is mon­i­tor­ing the prepa­ra­tions, polling, count­ing and the re­lease of re­sults, as well as the over­all elec­toral en­vi­ron­ment.

Ad­dress­ing a press brief­ing in Maseru on Tues­day, Mr Mo­gae said Com­mon­wealth Sec­re­tary-gen­eral, Ka­malesh Sharma, con­sti­tuted the group, which ar­rived in the coun­try last week, at the in­sti­ga­tion of the In­de­pen­dent Elec­toral Com­mis­sion (IEC).

He said the polls were Le­sotho’s chance to end the po­lit­i­cal tur­moil which en­sued fol­low­ing the fall­ing out be­tween Prime Min­is­ter Thomas Tha­bane and his deputy Mo­thetjoa Mets­ing.

“This week’s elec­tions are sig­nif­i­cant for Le­sotho’s po­lit­i­cal fu­ture,” said Mr Mo­gae.

“They present an op­por­tu­nity for the coun­try’s po­lit­i­cal par­ties to demon­strate their com­mit­ment to democ­racy and devel­op­ment in a peace­ful and cred­i­ble man­ner, fol­low­ing a chal­leng­ing po­lit­i­cal pe­riod.”

He said the ob­server mission com­prised of seven em­i­nent per­sons in the fields of pol­i­tics, elec­tions, me­dia, con­flict pre­ven­tion and youth devel­op­ment, and was be­ing sup­ported by five Com­mon­wealth sec­re­tariat staff mem­bers.

Ac­cord­ing to Mr Mo­gae the group had al­ready met IEC of­fi­cials, po- lit­i­cal par­ties and civil so­ci­ety or­gan­i­sa­tions and was ex­pect­ing to meet the diplo­matic com­mu­nity and other ob­server groups.

He said their brief was to also as­sess the pre-elec­tion en­vi­ron­ment, polling day ac­tiv­i­ties and the post-elec­tion pe­riod, “against the back­drop of Le­sotho’s na­tional leg­is­la­tion, its re­gional and in­ter­na­tional com­mit­ments”.

“We will per­form our ob­ser­va­tion role with im­par­tial­ity, in­de­pen­dence and trans­parency,” said Mr Mo­gae. On Thurs­day 26 Fe­bru­ary, mem­bers of the group will be de­ployed to var­i­ous prov­inces across the coun­try to ob­serve prepa­ra­tions ahead of polling day.

“On elec­tion day, they will ob­serve open­ing, vot­ing, closing, count­ing and the re­sults man­age­ment process.”

Fol­low­ing the hold­ing of the elec­tions, he said the group would is­sue an in­terim state­ment on its pre­lim­i­nary find­ings, with the fi­nal re­port also pre­pared be­fore their ex­pected de­par­ture on 7 March.

Mr Mo­gae also em­pha­sised that the group was only in the coun­try to ob­serve the polls and would not in­flu­ence how po­lit­i­cal par­ties han­dle the re­sults.

FOR­MER Botswana Pres­i­dent Fes­tus Mo­gae

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