Mmegi Online :: C’Wealth gives thumbs-up to Lesotho poll
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Last Updated
Wednesday 28 June 2017, 06:00 am.
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C’Wealth gives thumbs-up to Lesotho poll

We conclude from our observations both prior to, and on, voting day that these elections were competitive, and basic freedoms of association, assembly and movement were not compromised.
By Correspondent Thu 08 Jun 2017, 16:57 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: C’Wealth gives thumbs-up to Lesotho poll








We welcome the measures taken to promote political tolerance and laud the public commitment of all stakeholders, especially political parties, to the implementation of reforms and peaceful, inclusive elections, through the signing of pre-election pledges.

 

The campaign

Aspects of the election campaign that we were able to observe were generally peaceful, and characterised by active participation of large numbers of women and youth. The final political party rallies we attended were conducted in a festive atmosphere with political party members clad in their different political party colours and different kinds of attire with campaign messages freely demonstrating support for their parties and candidates. A number of vehicles were decorated with party colours, flags and messages, and were moving around the city freely. No incidents of violence or disruption of these campaigns were observed.

 

Media

We heard that during the pre-election period, access to state-run broadcasters, was limited to the “election hour” provided by the IEC, which acquired airtime for all political parties to disseminate information about themselves, their manifestos and campaigns. To give effect to the provisions of the National Assembly Electoral Act of 2011, we recommend that greater access and balanced reporting is provided throughout the election period.

Private media, although in some instances identified with particular political parties, in general provided broader coverage and access.

On voting day, we commend the state broadcasters for focussing attention on the elections and providing extensive, informative coverage. Live TV and radio programmes featured most political parties as well as commentary throughout the day.

A broad spectrum of political party leaders, observers, political analysts and civil society were interviewed. Additional coverage was provided by 40 journalists on 12 private and community radio stations deployed by Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) to 10 electoral districts. Here too, the journalists were able to engage with a broad section of political party leaders and electors.

 

Management of the electoral process

The June 3 National Assembly Elections in Lesotho were

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the third elections conducted within a period of five years; we commend the IEC and its staff for having successfully managed the conduct of these elections within a substantially compressed timeline, which imposed a number of cost and administrative burdens on them.

The decision by the IEC to establish various consultative committees was a positive step. This contributed to a high level of openness, which was apparent at all levels, from regular communication between the senior structure of the IEC and all stakeholders, to the professional manner in which voting station staff ensured that procedures were fully transparent on Voting Day.

The IEC successfully accommodated large numbers of party agents throughout preparations, voting and counting, allowing for a high degree of transparency in the process. Likewise, the presence of local chiefs in voting stations enabled Voting Station Managers to seek assistance in identifying voters if they had no identification documents on them. Their presence throughout the day as witnesses also contributed to greater transparency in the process.

 

Conduct of voting day

The voting process and prescribed procedures were adhered to throughout the day. Voting station staff were highly professional, methodical and meticulous in the application of procedures at all times, which ensured a high degree of transparency in the presence of the large numbers of party agents that were in voting stations. We note and praise the diligence of voting station staff.

 

Conclusion

We wish to congratulate the people of Lesotho for yet again demonstrating their commitment to peaceful, inclusive elections. A snap election can present significant logistical and administrative challenges for any Election Management Body and the IEC has yet again successfully overcome these.

 

*Masire-Mwamba is the Chairperson of the Commonwealth Observer Group for the 2017 Lesotho National Assembly Elections held on June 3. This is an abridged version of the Group’s interim statement issued prior to the formal declaration of election results. A final statement is due soon.

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Opinion & Analysis
Thu 08 Jun 2017, 16:57 pm
Wed 07 Jun 2017, 16:10 pm
Tue 06 Jun 2017, 16:55 pm
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