King to dissolve parliament

MASERU — King Letsie III is expected to officially dissolve parliament today to pave way for a general election on May 26.

In a statement on Tuesday, Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili’s office said the King had made the decision with the premier’s advice as well as aligning himself with “section 83 (1), (2) and (4) of the Constitution of Lesotho”.

“The King, pursuant to section 37 (1) of the National Assembly Electoral Act 2011 and acting in accordance with the advice of the Council of State, proclaims May 26, 2012 as the voting day of the holding of the general elections to return MPs for all constituencies of Lesotho,” the statement says.

The office said the King had also directed the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) director of elections, Mphasa Mokhochane, to “cause elections to be conducted in accordance with the National Assembly Electoral Act 2011”.

However, the announcement comes amidst controversy surrounding the formation in parliament of Mosisili’s Democratic Congress (DC) party which usurped government power on February 28 from the former ruling Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD).

Opposition parties last Thursday filed an urgent application in the High Court seeking an order to declare the new government “null and void”.

They claimed that National Assembly Speaker Nthloi Motsamai violated parliamentary procedures when she declared the DC the new government.

They submitted that the DC, which was able to win over the support of 45 LCD MPs, should not be declared as the party with the majority in the house.

The parties, represented by the Lesotho Workers Party (LWP) deputy leader Sello Maphalla, Senkatana Party’s Lehlohonolo Tšehlana, All Basotho Convention’s Pitso Maisa and LWP’s ‘Makalle Makara, also contended that Motsamai’s violation of procedure rendered the DC government unconstitutional.

The parties wanted the High Court to interpret and pass a verdict on the procedure adopted by Motsamai during the floor crossing in parliament on February 28.

ABC leader, Thomas Thabane, told this paper last night that although the opposition was still aggrieved by the state of the Seventh Parliament, he was elated that “at least we’re going for elections”.

“I think going for elections is the best solution because people will be given the opportunity to correct this huge mistake by voting wisely and possibly get rid of the DC government,” Thabane said.

However, he added that the opposition was still sceptical about the ability of the IEC to deliver a clean election.

“We have not yet removed our reservations on the capability of the IEC delivering a free and fair election.”

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