Lesotho: 2012 General Election Date Set

Lesotho will hold general elections on 26 May 2012. King Letsie III set the date for elections following successful political negotiations mediated by the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

Blogging from Lesotho, Michael Jordan reports:

Political violence in the enclave encircled by South Africa has flared up ahead of May 26 elections – an ominous sign in what one analyst calls the latest “stress test” for democracy in sub-Saharan Africa. Cracks have emerged here with high-profile assassinations, rumors of a “hit squad,” and clashes at campaign rallies.

So the United Nations invited Archbishop Tutu to bolster democracy in the land, where, before launching his crusade against Apartheid next door, he served his first bishopric from 1976-78. On Friday, his “prayer meeting” extracted a pledge among political rivals to keep the peace and respect election results.

Citing the past political violence of South Africa, Tutu urged an audience that included the prime minister of Lesotho, “Please, please, please, please do not let the same happen to this stunningly beautiful land. Nothing can be so precious that it can be bought with innocent lives.”

Voters during Lesotho elections in 2007. Photo courtesy of GNDEM's Flickr page.

He continues:

Lesotho’s election is more than a contested vote in a remote country rarely heard from. It comes on the heels of successful elections across the continent: Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Niger, Nigeria, and Zambia have recently all experienced peaceful elections. There have been a few notable blemishes: a couple of coups des états in Mali and Guinea-Bissau, and a contested election in Cote D’Ivoire in late 2010 that briefly turned into a civil war.

Khotso From Lesotho notes that political parties involved in the elections are too many to keep track of them all:

Elections are upon us in Lesotho. The scheduled date of national elections is May 26th. Parties are in full swing with events and meetings. On the weekends people come out and sing, hold flags, line up their horses, and urge people to vote for their party. There are many parties here, so it is hard to keep track of it all, but there are at least 2 major parties and from what people are saying it will be a very close election. The current prime minister formed a new party to run with and there has already been a bit of fighting (actual physical fighting) even within this one party.

Although the elections do not seem to be a trending topic online, there are tweeps sharing information, insights and opinions about the May 26 elections:

@takwiram: Of factions & fractions, party splits & contested elections. Lesotho has 120 MPs + 33 senators for 2,2 million people & GDP pc of $1,600

@KayZeeKokotela: Lesotho's upcoming elections, May 26, a true testimony of Basotho's freedom.

@TumiVolume: “@KommandaObbs: It's annoying how a small country like Lesotho has over 17 political parties contesting for general elections.” democracy

@Snitzerd: @WilliamJHague. The Kingdom of Lesotho is going for General Elections on the 26th may…international support needed

@gophlyone: Lesotho elections have neva been so closely contested, u can't tell who's going to win this one…LCD, DC, BNP or ABC

@KCMokoma: This weekend will most dramatic weekend as ever in Lesotho political history. We faithfully pray for peaceful elections

The elections will take place against the backdrop of political violence. The Lesotho Political Parties Leadership Forum claims that there is a “hit squad” that has been assigned to kill prominent people ahead of the general elections.

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