IEC gets M51 million to organise election

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MASERU — The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has been allocated M51 million to organise this year’s election.

The government is yet to announce the election date but it is expected that it will be held sometime in May.

The Seventh Parliament is likely to be dissolved in the next few weeks, according to Deputy Prime Minister Lesao Lehohla.

However, there have been calls from the opposition parties for the election to be postponed to the second half of the year.

Opposition parties argue that the IEC is not ready to organise a free and fair election.

To support their calls for a postponement the opposition parties point out to the IEC’s failure to register new voters in remote areas.

They also say the commission has failed to weed out ghost voters from the voters’ roll.

But in his budget statement yesterday Finance Minister Timothy Thahane expressed confidence that the IEC was ready to organise a free and fair election.

“The Independent Electoral Commission is ready to deliver an efficiently run and fair election,” Thahane said without giving an indication of what he had seen to give that assessment that most political parties obviously doubt.

He said the IEC will be supported by political parties, the army, police, media, monitors and observers.

“We wish them every success because their success is our success and pride,” Thahane added.

There are no indications that the government will heed the opposition’s calls to postpone the election.

Two weeks ago Lehohla stressed that it was important that the election be held “before the winter season sets in”.

Lehohla said although he was not sure when the poll would be held the “law makes it clear that it should be within 90 days after the dissolution of parliament”.

“We will probably have elections in May,” he said.

The IEC has also said it was ready for an election as it continued with the process of registering voters during the festive season.

Meanwhile, last Friday three opposition leaders declined to sign an agreement intended to pave way for free and fair elections.

They argued that Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili, who sent his deputy Lehohla to sign on his behalf, had “snubbed the signing event”.

All Basotho Convention leader Thomas Thabane, Marematlou Freedom Party leader Moeketse Malebo and Popular Front leader Lekhetho Rakuoane said they would not sign the agreement if Mosisili was not present.

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