ABC conference shoots down boycott call

MASERU — An All Basotho Convention (ABC) special conference last week shot down leader Thomas Thabane’s suggestion to boycott next month’s local government elections.

In his opening speech at the conference on Saturday, Thabane lashed out at the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) for having “a bad track record in execution of its duties”.

“The IEC does not have a clean record of its administration of elections. Elections begin with registration,” Thabane charged.

“If registration is not clean and proper, how are we then expected to go to elections in this situation?”

His attempt to persuade the party to pull out of the elections, scheduled for October 1, however fell on deaf ears.

Thabane told the Lesotho Times that although he still felt it was wrong to go to the polls with a defective voter’s roll, the majority of constituencies were adamant that the party should participate in the elections.

“I had to comply with the voice of the majority,” Thabane said.

“They did not accept my recommendation that we do not participate in the elections. Only three or so constituencies shared my sentiments. I was out-voted,” Thabane said.

According to Thabane, the constituencies said the ABC’s participation in the local government elections was non-negotiable and that it was “up to me to deal with the IEC”.

“They suggested that the ABC and other parties should work together to bring the IEC to book for incompetence,” Thabane said.

The ABC leader added that what was left for them as political parties was to “strive to disband the electoral commission”.

“This means that although we’re going for these elections, we’re also firm in our view that we will not go to national elections using the same roll. It does not end with local government elections,” Thabane said.

The special conference was called to deal specifically with the controversial issue of participation in the polls.

ABC secretary-general, Sam Rapapa, said 56 of the 60 constituencies that attended the conference felt that the party should participate in the polls.

In early August, ABC leader Thomas Thabane, along with leaders of the Basotho National Party Thesele ’Maseribane and Marematlou Freedom Party Moeketse Malebo, said they were opposed to local government polls being held in October.

This was because a report by elections expert Roberts  Johnson titled The State of the Voters’ Roll as at July 2011, revealed that Lesotho’s voters’ was inflated by over 100 000 voters because the IEC had failed to clean the register regularly.

In a desperate bid to have the elections either postponed or probably merged with national elections to allow for the cleaning of the register, the three leaders approached Deputy Prime Minister Lesao Lehohla.

They wanted Lehohla to persuade the government to postpone the elections.

The government however ignored their request and announced that polls would go ahead as planned.

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