Lesotho: New Party Surges Ahead in Early Election Results

Vote counting is under way in Lesotho after Friday’s general election, and the Lesotho Times reports that the electoral commission expects a final result on Tuesday.

However, early returns from polling stations suggest that the newly-formed Revolution for Prosperity (RFP) party, led by Sam Matekane, a millionaire businessman who is the only party leader who has never served in government, is doing surprisingly well, report Reuters and SABC News.

For a small nation of just over two million people, comprising one ethnic group speaking the same language and led by a respected constitutional monarch whose family has ruled for nearly two centuries, party politics in Lesotho has to date been notoriously divisive and unstable.

Although 2,560 candidates from more than 50 parties contested the polls, the Times sees the election as a four-horse race pitting outgoing Deputy Prime Minister Mathibeli Mokhothu’s Democratic Congress and his coalition partner Nkaku Kabi’s All Basotho Convention (ABC) against Professor Nqosa Mahao’s Basotho Action Party (BAP) and Matekane’s party. The RFP counts among its candidates a former chief justice and a former governor of the country’s central bank.

In one of a series of interviews conducted with party leaders, Matekane told the Lesotho Times that a leadership crisis is “at the centre of the challenges that the country is experiencing.” He argued that the RFP offered “a leadership based on merit”.

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