IEC pressured to resolve dispute

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MASERU — The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) will meet tomorrow to discuss the implications of Sir Ketumile Masire’s report on the allocation of proportional representation seats in parliament.

The meeting will discuss other matters but sources say the main agenda will be the issue of the disputed allocation of seats.

The IEC is under immense pressure to deal with the matter following a damning report that Masire issued saying the mixed member proportional electoral model was not applied properly during the 2007 general election.

Masire abandoned his mission blaming the government’s unwillingness to deal with this issue.

The opposition ratcheted up pressure last Thursday by giving an ultimatum to the IEC to deal with the matter.

This week the leader of the Basotholand African Congress, Khauhelo Raditapole, said the opposition had given the IEC an ultimatum of two weeks to decide “about undoing the damage it had done in court”.

“We have given the IEC an ultimatum that in two weeks we should have met with them so they could tell us what steps they are going to take,” Raditapole said.

“We have wasted enough time as it is already. We will not be waiting for two years anymore.”

Opposition parties last Thursday said they had requested the IEC to start a legal process of removing 21 members of parliament from their seats.

Basotho National Party (BNP) spokesperson Majara Molapo said if the IEC failed to review the allocation of the proportional representation seats in the National Assembly, opposition parties would be left with no option but to seek the intervention of international organisations like the Commonwealth and the United Nations.

Molapo said:  “We will engage the African Union, the United Nations, the Commonwealth and all embassies in the country to notify them of the state of affairs.”

The ultimatum comes as ABC leader Tom Thabane on Sunday threatened an indefinite strike to start on August 3 to pressure the government to deal with the crisis.

The government has said there is no going back on the issue.

BNP leader Justin Metsing Lekhanya told the Lesotho Times last night that his party will join the stay-away.

Other parties have confirmed that they will be participating.

But there is a dissenting voice in the opposition movement.

Senkatana, Lesotho’s newest party, says it will not be participating in the stay-away.

Party leader Lehlohonolo Tséhlana said as far as his party was concerned there was no need for a stay-away.

Tséhlana said: “The ABC should tread carefully. We advise Ntate Thabane and his party to withdraw from the National Assembly the 10 LWP MPs as the Masire report says.”

Tséhlana said the Masire report specifically points out that the LCD/NIP and ABC/LWP alliances both defied the election law.

“Ntate Thabane should lead by example. If he is adamant that the LCD is in the wrong he should also own up to the role he played in creating the mess by pulling out his people from parliament,” Tséhlana said.

He said both the LCD and ABC were wrong.

“Thabane is contradicting himself. His 10 people are still in there yet he has the audacity to push for Mosisili to withdraw his people. Why point fingers when you’re in the wrong?

“If the ABC withdrew its people from parliament, the move might compel government to reconsider its negative stance on the PR seats issue. But for now, both the ABC and LCD stand accused for defying the elections law.”

Masire had been tasked by SADC to moderate in the dispute.

His report appeared to vindicate the opposition which had insisted for the past two years that the allocation of seats had not been calculated correctly.

Amidst all this war of words the government has vowed to dig in.

Deputy-Prime Minister Lesao Lehohla has staunchly said there will be no review of the allocation of PR seats.

Communications Minister Mothetjoa Metsing said dialogue on the PR seats issue was a “closed chapter”.

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