LNOC forced into re-elections

LNOC forced into re-elections

Maseru – THE Lesotho National Olympic Committee (LNOC) has been forced into snap re-elections after its appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to prevent the balloting failed.

The LNOC, which originally held elections in February, has set the new polls for tomorrow but it remains to be seen whether they will end the existing discord between the mother body and member associations.

What is clear, though, is that, in calling for a fresh ballot, the LNOC’s hand has been forced by unhappy members.

The almost year-long saga began in February when the Olympic Committee held executive polls which saw its entire board headed by president ‘Matlohang Moiloa-Ramoqopo elected for another four-year term in office.

Other members of the re-elected executive were Tlali Rampooana, Letsatsi Ntsibilane, advocate Tšepo Ntaopane, Dr Lebohang Khomari, Moshoeshoe Molapo, Thabang ‘Matefelo Mokhehle, Dr Makhetha Mosotho and Makutloano Kheola.

However, immediately after the elections five member associations – the Lesotho Netball Association (LNA), Federation of Dance Sport Lesotho (FEDALE), Lesotho Amateur Athletics Association (LAAA), Lesotho Swimmers Association (LSA) and Lesotho Football Association (LEFA) – claimed the ballot was illegitimate because the candidates were self-nominated.

The associations lodged a complaint with the Transformation Resource Centre electoral commission (TRC), an independent body which oversaw the elections, and mediation with the LNOC overseen by Advocate Monaheng Rasekoai was started at the end of February.

A month later, however, the Olympic Committee withdrew from the arbitration process saying it was hindering its administration.

Regardless, Advocate Rasekoai delivered his verdict at the end of August. He declared the February elections unlawful and ordered a fresh ballot to be held within a week.

Unhappy with Rasekoai’s judgement, the LNOC in September appealed to CAS – a Switzerland based judicial body which settles sports related disputes through arbitration – to overturn his decision.

However, the LNOC’s bid failed and on Monday it sent out a memo announcing new elections will be held on Friday.

The outcome, however, is a mixed bag for estranged LNOC member associations.

LAAA public relations officer Sejanamane Maphathe, for example, said although his association is pleased at re-elections, it is upset they will be overseen by the current LNOC executive.

He was also not happy that the elections were to be held at such short notice.

“We are happy with the decision to hold fresh elections because that’s what we wanted all along,” Maphathe said.

“However, we are disappointed that the same people whom we were complaining about are the ones preparing the elections.”

He added: “Remember, it was at the end of August when the arbitrator ordered fresh elections within a week but that did not happen because LNOC took the appeal to CAS. It was only on Friday when we learnt they failed.”

“We were hoping that there will be independent people, with the help of Transformation Resource Centre, to draw a roadmap to the new elections because it does not help if it is still the same people (who will oversee the elections),” Maphathe said.

“It is only on Monday when we heard that we have until Wednesday to collect the nomination forms. I feel we have just been given a raw deal here because these elections are still going to be conducted by the same people,” he said.

LNA president Moipone Mashale, meanwhile, said her association had consulted with its lawyers over the validity of Friday’s elections if they will involve the current LNOC executive.

“We have consulted with our lawyers regarding that for advice and they have told us not to comment until they get back to us,” she said.

For his part, the LNOC public relations officer, Moshoeshoe Molapo, labelled tomorrow’s elections a way to resolve issues between the Olympic body and its associations. He appeared dismayed the re-elections are being interpreted as an indictment of the LNOC’s handling of February’s elections.

“It’s a pity that the re-election could be explained as a victory or defeat. To us (LNOC), we see it as a solution,” Molapo said.

“We are preparing for the elections this Friday. We failed to meet the conditions of the (CAS) appeals therefore we have to hold elections again. After we decided to take an appeal, we had no choice but to stay ready (in case our appeal at CAS was unsuccessful),” he said.

The current LNOC president, Moiloa-Ramopoqo, assumed the position in 2009 and is expected to run again for a third term in office. She will be challenged for the Olympic committee’s top job by former Lesotho Sport and Recreation Commission president Limpho Mokhochane.

Luciah Phahla

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