Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Lesotho Election

In what observers have called a "free and fair election," it appears that Lesotho's ruling party, the Lesotho Congress of Democrats (LCD), has fended off a challenge from former foreign minister Tom Thabane's newly formed opposition party, the All Basotho Convention (ABC). The election proved to be something of a landslide for the LCD despite forecasts to the contrary:
With votes counted in most of the country's 80 constituencies, Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili's LCD party had won 58 seats while Mr Thabane's ABC trailed in second place with 17 seats, a spokesman for the electoral commission told the BBC News website. [In addition to the] 80 directly elected MPs, another 40 seats are allocated to parties under the proportional representation system to make up the country's 120-seat parliament.

Assertions that the election was clean do not make it so, of course, but with the outcome as overwhelming as it appears to have been, there is little room to dispute the results. Lesotho's economy is a mess and the country is ravaged by AIDS. Lesotho's biggest draw for tourism -- its mountainous terrain -- also makes its other economic options limited. Surely many of the country's limitations are not the fault of the government, but it comes as at least a bit of a surprise that the challengers were unable to mobilize more support from the electorate.

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