Lesotho’s elections to be free and fair says Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane

International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane expressed hope on Wednesday that Lesotho’s elections would be free and fair.Togo Presidential ElecPresident Jacob Zuma, as chairperson of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) organ on politics, defence and security co-operation, constituted the SADC Electoral Observation Mission (SEOM).

Nkoana-Mashabane was appointed head of the mission, which would observe the Lesotho general elections, set for 28 February.”As we head to the actual election day, we remain mindful of the fact that the onus to hold peaceful, free and fair elections rests with the people of the mountain kingdom themselves,” she said in a speech prepared for delivery in Maseru.

Political tensions

“It is thus our sanguine hope that all political parties will, as usual, conduct themselves in a manner that contributes to a peaceful, free and fair democratic election, as this country has done previously.”

She said the people of Lesotho deserved to be congratulated on choosing a peaceful route to resolve political tensions.While SADC supported and facilitated ongoing dialogue aimed at securing peace, security and stability in Lesotho, it was up to the Basotho to resolve their political differences peacefully.

Nkoana-Mashabane said the SEOM’s primary responsibility was to ensure adherence to the SADC principles and guidelines governing democratic elections, as well as to African Union and international instruments and best practices.

Democratic process

“It is indeed with a deep sense of pride that we acknowledge that election observation has become a norm and part and parcel of the democratic process in our region, SADC. And indeed, the democratic values that underpin our regional organisation.”electThe SEOM would deploy observers in all 10 districts of Lesotho.Members of the organ troika, led by Nkoana-Mashabane and supported by the representatives of Namibia, as the outgoing chair of the organ, would engage the Lesotho leadership, political parties, civil society organisations, the media, and the Lesotho Independent Electoral Commission.

“The purpose of our interactions will be to listen to all interested parties and stakeholders, to be apprised of the state of preparations ahead of the election, and assess the state of readiness.”-Africa Metro

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