Parties to sign election roadmap

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MASERU — The government, opposition leaders and the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) are expected to sign an election roadmap for this year’s election.

The agreement dubbed, Lesotho Roadmap 2012: Commitment on the 2012 General Elections, is the product of a closed door meeting that was convened by the three parties on November 19 last year.

The Lesotho Times understands that the meeting sought to address the issue of lack of trust and confidence in the IEC and its staff by the political parties.

The meeting also sought to devise means to restore the public’s confidence in the electoral commission.

The parties also took the commission to task over its preparedness to stage the election.

The meeting was chaired by the Christian Council of Lesotho (CCL) that had mediated in the 2007 post-election dispute over the allocation of proportional representation seats.

But according to the document that was seen by this newspaper this week, all the three parties have committed themselves to working in unison to deliver a transparent election devoid of corruption and deceit.

The opposition has pledged to encourage the public to register for the election and assist in the cleaning up of the voter register.

They also promised to respect Lesotho’s electoral laws.

The opposition also vowed to engage in talks to resolve any post-election disputes.

On the other hand, the government has pledged to provide assistance in the administration of elections while at the same time upholding Lesotho’s electoral laws.

The government also pledged to level the political playing field by allocating campaign slots on national radio at all times.

Main opposition All Basotho Convention (ABC) leader, Thomas Thabane, told this paper yesterday that the document was formulated by all the stakeholders but was still in draft form.

“Nothing is final at the moment. We’re yet to go through the document and make amendments where necessary as it’s still a draft,” Thabane said.

“But note that we will not sign the document until we’re sure that it’s all we have agreed on. Maybe they will provide us with copies before Friday (tomorrow) to ensure it’s what we want.”

The Basotho Democratic National Party (BDNP) leader, Thabang Nyeoe, said the elections agreement was supposed to have been signed by all stakeholders before Christmas.

He said they had to postpone the signing because the government, represented by the ruling Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) party, was not ready.

“The document was formulated by our task team and it clearly outlines commitments of each of the three stakeholders, the opposition, IEC and government,” Nyeoe said.

But Marematlou Freedom Party (MFP) leader, Moeketse Malebo, yesterday professed ignorance about the existence of the document.

“I haven’t seen the document you’re referring to. I cannot comment on something that I haven’t seen,” Malebo said.

Basotho National Party (BNP) leader, Thesele ‘Maseribane, warned that when they go for the signing tomorrow “it won’t be just an issue of putting pen to paper”.

“We have concerns regarding the regulations to enforce the National Assembly Electoral Act 2011. They were formulated by the IEC law committee but are yet to be tabled in parliament,” ‘Maseribane said.

“Before we sign, we need the assurance that the minister will take those regulations to parliament, as a way of realising a clean and transparent election.”

The Attorney General, ‘Maseribane said, should also be clear on what will happen to government property falling under the list of benefits for ministers during election campaigns.

“We know that as ministers they are entitled to benefits. But the playing field should also be levelled,” ‘Maseribane said.

Deputy Prime Minister Lesao Lehohla was reluctant to comment on tomorrow’s signing saying, “I’ll be comfortable once I’ve seen the document in its entirety.

“Why don’t you wait until Friday to see for yourself what it is about? Well, I can tell you that although it’s for the 2012 elections, it’s along the lines of the Thaba-Bosiu Declaration where leaders committed themselves to solving issues
through dialogue,” Lehohla said.

“We’ve been involved in deep discussions with the IEC and this document is a culmination of those talks.”

In the document, the IEC also commits to respecting individual political rights as enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), especially where the covenant addresses “the individual right to absolute
participation in elections”.

The IEC also vows to engage all relevant stakeholders in talks as well as working together in preparing for elections.

On registration related issues, the IEC commits to providing enough financial support for registration and the employment of efficient and thoroughly trained staff with impeccable behaviour, to register voters and assist in the cleaning
up of the voters’ roll.

The commission adds that it will provide extensive voter education across all sectors to encourage active participation in elections.

In addition, the document says, the IEC will provide all political parties with support during election campaigns as required by law as well as their status and “conduct a transparent election devoid of corruption and deceit as is
required by the electoral laws”.

“The IEC also commits to seeking assistance from international organisations to develop the electoral commission in areas of weakness and where it lacks skills in all aspects of elections,”
the document says.

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