Inter-party talks set to resume tomorrow

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MASERU — Political parties are scheduled to meet again tomorrow as the search for a solution to the country’s bitter electoral dispute continues, the Lesotho Times has learnt.

The parties met again yesterday at United Nations House in Maseru to discuss the way forward following recommendations for fresh talks to break the deadlock after the 2007 elections.

A SADC team led by Mozambican President Armando Guebuza two weeks ago urged Lesotho’s political parties to renew dialogue saying the solution to the crisis was ultimately in the hands of Basotho.

Yesterday, the parties haggled over the interpretation of the Marematlou Freedom Party (MFP) High Court judgment where the party challenged the alliance system which it said compromised the allocation of proportional representation seats.

The judgment however did not deal with the merits of the case.

The parties yesterday agreed to call the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) which runs elections to pronounce its position on the 2007 electoral dispute, according to sources.

A member of the opposition who refused to be named said the opposition had clearly told Bishop Philip Mokuku who is mediating that they were tired of always “arguing with Deputy Prime Minister Lesao Lehohla over the interpretation of the judgment”.

Lehohla is representing the ruling Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) party in the talks.

The opposition insists that High Court Judge Semapo Peete did not make a ruling on the merits of the case when he dismissed the MFP’s court application.

“The Deputy Prime Minister stood up in the meeting and said he would not be drawn back to the issue of allocation of seats because the courts had made a ruling on the issue,” said the source.

“He could not listen even when a report sent to the mediators by the law experts was read and clearly showed that Judge Peete did not make a ruling on the merits of the case.

“That was when the parties decided that it was better for the IEC to come forward and pronounce its position,” he said.

The spokesman for the IEC Tuoe Hantsi could not be drawn to reveal what transpired yesterday but confirmed that talks would continue tomorrow. 

“I do not know what happened at the meeting as I am still to be briefed. However, I am aware that the talks will continue on Friday (tomorrow),” Hantsi said.

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