Elections: time to move on

Elections: time to move on

LESOTHO’s opposition parties last week wrote to SADC requesting a forensic audit of the June 3 election results. The opposition says while the election was generally free, fair and peaceful, the election was also marred by serious irregularities effectively negating the will of the people.

It alleges the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) continued to secretly register voters even well after the set deadline. It also complains of vote buying even as the elections were underway. It also alleges that bus-loads of voters were ferried across the border from South Africa to participate in the election.
The opposition also alleges there was multiple voting after the IEC discarded the use of ultra-violet light to check against voter fraud.

The opposition wants SADC to establish the extent of these irregularities and determine whether the results were a true reflection of the will of the people.
These are indeed very serious allegations. In fact, the allegations cast aspersions on the integrity of the whole IEC and its commissioners. Given the seriousness of the matter, it is incumbent upon the opposition to provide strong evidence to prove the election was rigged.

To merely raise the allegations without backing up the charge with evidence would portray the opposition as sore losers. We also find it quite odd that the opposition has written to SADC without first exploring local remedies.

At the time of writing, the opposition had still not approached the courts or written to the IEC expressing its concerns over the election outcome, three weeks after the election.
If there is any electoral dispute, the opposition must quickly petition the courts so that the dispute can be attended to urgently. We would like to believe that our legal system has the capacity to handle electoral disputes of this nature.

Any such disputes must be dispensed with as quickly as possible so that the new government can get on with the business of governing. The government must be given the space to rule.
We are heartened to note that the former coalition partners have promised they would act in the national interest in being a loyal opposition. They should play that role with dignity. We believe even outside the structures of government, they can still be a force for good, influencing national policies, while not holding the levers of power.
Since the events of August 30, 2014, Lesotho has gone through turbulence characterized by bitter acrimony. The country has been dragged through two national elections over the last five years.

This country is now crying out for a fresh start. It needs stability if it is to move forward. It is against this background that we suggest Lesotho gets past this ‘election business’ and focus on delivering services to its people.

That will require political stability. It will also require level heads that will not stoke political tensions unnecessarily. On this note we think it is in order to reprove South Africa’s Foreign Affairs Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane over her comments about a military coup in Lesotho.

It was a reckless statement without an iota of basis. The statement had the potential to stoke unnecessary tensions. There is more to Lesotho’s politics than military coups. We hope Nkoana-Mashabane will be more measured in her statements so as not to cause unnecessary alarm in the international community.
This is no time for gun-boat diplomacy.

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