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Opposition takes to streets

by Lesotho Times
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MASERU — A group of about 100 opposition supporters yesterday marched in the streets of Maseru and handed a petition to the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) requesting that it rectifies the disputed allocation of proportional representation seats. 

They also petitioned the Speaker of Parliament, Ntlhoi Motsamai, to immediately deal with the position of the leader of the opposition in parliament.

The leader of the opposition in parliament is yet to take up his position as required by the constitution.

This is one of the issues at the centre of the current dispute.

The group was made up                of members from All Basotho Convention (ABC) party, Marematlou Freedom Party (MFP) and Basotho National Party (BNP).

The march started at the Manthabiseng Convention Centre from where the group proceeded along to Mpilo Road.

They were escorted by the police.

The petition to the speaker of parliament was received by clerk of parliament, Lebohang Ramohlanka.

The petition to the IEC was received by the chairperson of the commission, Limakatso Mokhothu.

Other IEC commissioners were also present. 

Commissioner Malefetsane Nkhahle told the demonstrators that the commission was considering the issue and would report back on their views.

In the petition to the IEC the opposition members said they were not happy with the way the proportional representation seats were allocated.

“As electorate we have a right to be respected for our election of those we wish to represent us in parliament,” the petition said.

“Since the 2007 snap election our view has been that the Independent Electoral Commission has not correctly allocated the PR seats to our political parties in accordance with the Mixed Member Proportional allocation…”

They said this view had been reinforced by different international experts who said the seats were not properly allocated.

They said the IEC must urgently deal with the issue to show that they are working in good faith to benefit the electorate.

“You and fellow commissioners should revisit the decision you previously took in the allocation of seats by asking the courts of law to interpret what was the position regarding the conditions of the constitution on allocation of seats.”

“We appeal to IEC to use its powers in terms of section 93 A 1 (1) of the National Assembly Act 2001 to comply with the conditions of section 93 A 1 (2) which states that “notwithstanding, the Commission may apply to court for a reallocation of the seats, if it is in the interests of a fair election to do so.”

Demonstrators also said they did not believe that the IEC had acted out of malice when it allocated the seats.

“That is why we are appealing to you to work together and help each other to resolve this issue. We will be happy to have an opportunity if you can look at this issue together with us.”

In their petition to the speaker of parliament they said they believed that the constitution was clear about the position of the leader of the opposition in parliament. 

“It is for this reason that we humbly request you to revisit your decision on the leader of the opposition in parliament,” the petition said.

“You should accept him as the official leader of opposition in parliament in accordance with the constitution of the land.”

They also requested an opportunity to discuss the matter with the speaker of parliament to find an amicable solution.

The petitions sounded quite conciliatory compared to the hard-line stance that the opposition has taken over the issue.

ABC leader Tom Thabane has said the stayaway will go ahead as planned on Monday.

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