IEC struggles to release poll results

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MASERU — Four days after the local government poll, the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) was still struggling to release the final results triggering fears the commission might struggle with managing next year’s general election.

The poll, which took place on Saturday, was riddled with logistical problems and delays, with voting in some regions in the country postponed to Sunday as there were no voting materials.

In the Thaba-Phats’oa constituency in Leribe district, polling had to be postponed to Sunday due to there being no ballot papers and other voting material.

By early evening yesterday, the IEC had released 69 of the 75 council results.

The electoral commission spokesperson, Rethabile Phoolo, told the Lesotho Times yesterday that the delays were due to “logistical problems we have encountered”.

“The terrain is also very bad hence the delays in accessing the results quickly,” Phoolo said.

However, Phoolo sought to clear the IEC of incompetence and failing to issue results on time by stating that the commission was “acting within the confines of the law”.

“The law provides that the IEC releases results within seven days of the polling day. We’re right on schedule as far as the time factor is concerned,” Phoolo said.

On the question of delays in councils where voting was postponed to Sunday, Phoolo said the law gave the IEC the authority to “extend the voting period”.

“The law provides that we extend the voting period where necessary, whereas in some cases the IEC has been bestowed with the right to cancel elections,” Phoolo said.

Preliminary results yesterday indicated that the ruling Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) party, All Basotho Convention (ABC) and independent candidates were the ones ruling the roost across the board, an assessment which Phoolo also confirmed.

“I can safely say the LCD has claimed victory in the majority of electoral divisions, followed by the ABC and independent candidates,” Phoolo said.

“But I can’t say for sure who is taking the lead between the ABC and independent candidates. The final results will determine that.”

Phoolo added that the commission was hoping to have released party results as early as this morning.

ABC leader Thomas Thabane told this paper yesterday that he was happy with the preliminary results because “it shows that we’re relevant”.

“I’m elated with the results and the ABC’s performance in this election. It goes to show that we’re relevant,” Thabane said.

He added that although he was opposed to the ABC participating in the municipal poll “my people were right to insist that we go”.

“I had reasons for insisting that we did not go for this election. But I am glad we did because now more than ever we’ve proven that we really do exist,” Thabane said.

However, the ABC leader was quick to add that had the IEC managed to register all voters on time his party “would have fared better”.

“I am not surprised that we have performed well. But had the IEC done its part of registering voters, had my voters been registered properly things would be different,” Thabane said.

“I’m going to ensure that this IEC is pushed out before the national elections and for registration issues to be straightened out. Then no political party will be a
match for us.”

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