The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has reassured the nation about the security of the ballot paper following concerns it had “suspicious marks” over it, which could have been an attempt to rig the 28 February poll.
Advance-voting had to be suspended for three hours at Maseru Sun Cabanas Poling Station last Saturday after an early voter had complained about the “marks”.
However, voting later continued after Station Manager Thato Moeti and IEC officials had explained that these were security features meant to safeguard the vote.
But some of the voters were still not convinced about the explanation, which was reiterated by Acting Director of Elections, Pontšo ’Mamatlere Matete, yesterday.
“The IEC notifies all people engaged in the 2015 National Assembly elections that one of the security features surrounding the ballot papers is somewhat visible on each of the ballot papers, especially against candidates who are 9th on the listed ballot page.
“This should not be a deterrent to voting as the electors could still use black-inked pen to mark their votes or puncture against their desired candidates, using the provided puncture in all voting kits and stations.
“We profoundly apologise for the inconvenience caused by this aberration and hope that the elections will run as smoothly as anticipated.”
According to Ms Matete, IEC officials became aware of the marks when the voter complained last Saturday.
“Suspicion over the security feature marks arose during the advance-voting last Saturday when one of the voters complained about this issue. It was then that we became aware that all the ballot papers had similar marks.
“In every box aligned to the 9th candidate on the ballot paper, there is this blue mark stretching into the box as if a vote has already been made. However, it is very small and should be disregarded.”
A total of 23 political parties are fielding candidates in the 80 constituencies’ up-for-grabs in the poll which comes two years early due to the collapse of the All Basotho Convention, Lesotho Congress for Democracy and Basotho National Party government.
LCD leader and deputy prime minister, Mothetjoa Metsing, accused his ABC counterpart—Prime Minister Thomas Thabane—of not consulting him and BNP leader Thesele ‘Maseribane when making key decisions, with the situation deteriorating into open warfare, prompting mediation by the Southern African Development Community (SADC), which resulted in Saturday’s elections.
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