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Masire-Mwamba leads Lesotho election observer team

MBONGENI MGUNI
Masire-Mwamba
Former Commonwealth deputy secretary general, Mmasekgoa Masire-Mwamba has joined regional and international observers in Lesotho ahead of the contentious general election set for the weekend in the mountain kingdom.

Lesotho’s prime minister, Pakalitha Mosisili called the snap election in March after that country’s Parliament passed a motion of no confidence in him, the latest development in a period of turbulence in the troubled country.

Masire-Mwamba, who is also the former Botswana Export Development and Investment Authority CEO, is leading a team of three Commonwealth observers from Ghana, Swaziland and the United Kingdom, who are also supported by three staffers from the Commonwealth Secretariat.

Other Batswana already in Lesotho monitoring the election include former Parliament speaker, Patrick Balopi and retired deputy BDF commander, Major General Jefferson Tlhokwane. Balopi and Tlhokwane are Botswana’s two representatives in an eight-member SADC oversight committee on Lesotho formed in 2015 as an early warning system for volatility in the mountain kingdom.

Masire-Mwamba said the Commonwealth team would consider whether conditions exist for free and fair elections ahead of, during and after this weekend’s poll. The Commonwealth team left on May 27 and will be in Lesotho until June 8.

“Our presence at this time will consider, among other things, the general preparedness of the country’s electoral systems

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and processes, including whether there is a level playing field that allows all political parties and all candidates to take their campaigns to the Basotho people,” she said.

“It will also consider whether the voter register was compiled in such a way that all eligible voters who chose to register to vote had the ability to do so and whether sufficiently robust mechanisms exist to ensure the integrity of the register.”

Masire-Mwamba added: “Additionally, we will consider whether the state apparatus and public media are impartial, whether freedom of expression is provided for, whether voters are free to express their will and whether the results process is transparent and timely”.

She said the team would then “take a view as to whether the process has been conducted to the international, Commonwealth and regional standards to which Lesotho has committed itself, including its own laws”.

The Commonwealth team will issue an interim statement on its preliminary findings on June 5, 2017, before preparing a final report for the Commonwealth Secretary-General, which will subsequently be shared with other stakeholders and the public.



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