Party leaders want a permanent IEC

By Billy Ntaote

MASERU — Lesotho political party leaders are calling for “a permanent” Independent Electoral Commission (IEC).

While attending a political leaders meeting held in the electoral commission’s boardroom yesterday, the leaders said there was urgent need “for a stable and permanent commission”.

The leaders unequivocally aired their views in the meeting in which the IEC’s newly appointed interim commissioners Dr Fako Likoti and Advocate ‘Mamosebi Pholo, who assumed office on June 8, were being introduced to party leaders.

Likoti has now been appointed the commission’s chairman since his contract was extended by only six months in June to chair the interim IEC.

Since the interim commission was set up, political party leaders have been irked by the Council of State’s advice to have the King set up “an interim IEC” when they were expecting registered political parties to be consulted when new commissioners were appointed.

Likoti and Pholo’s appearance before the party leaders was well received with long speeches by the leaders who emphasised the need for a permanent and stable IEC “as opposed to the interim commissioners”.

All Democratic Corporation (ADC) leader Liphapang Setimela bluntly pointed out that the interim commissioners should know they were not appointed into office by the party leaders.

“We did not elect you, you have been chosen for us. The Prime Minister only called us saying the Council of State has chosen you as the interim IEC,” Setimela said.

Setimela’s sentiments were corroborated by the Lesotho People’s Congress (LPC) party Deputy Leader Molahlehi Letlotlo.

Letlotlo stressed that the issue of the interim commission was a serious “matter that should not be overlooked”.

“We should be basing ourselves on the respect of rule of law and if the law is followed to the letter, we in the LPC would not have any problems,” Letlotlo said.

He said the commissioners, although appointed on an interim basis were charged with the very serious task of managing the country’s elections.

“We already have a bad history when it comes to elections, but you are taking over from a lady (former Chairperson Limakatso Mokhothu) who performed her duties excellently and you should strive to match her diligence,” Letlotlo said.

Letlotlo emphasised that for the first time Lesotho does not have post-electoral conflicts adding “there is a need for the IEC to be stable”.

Popular Front for Democracy (PFD) leader, Advocate Lekhetho Rakuoane said the last meeting of the political party leaders had mandated some of the leaders to meet the Attorney General Tšokolo Makhethe and the Prime Minister Thomas Thabane “on appointing a permanent IEC”.

Rakuoane, who is also the Deputy Speaker in the National Assembly, said they have since met with the Attorney General and the party leaders would soon be meeting with Thabane over the matter.

“We need to have a stable IEC and do away with this interim IEC, which we have now,” Rakuoane said.

For his part, leader of the White Horse Party Mohau Thakaso told the interim commissioners that they are expected to treat all political parties “as equal entities”.

He emphasised the need for all parties to be accorded the same treatment by the commissioners.

Monyane Moleleki, deputy leader of the main opposition Democratic Congress (DC), corroborated the need to have a stable IEC.

“All we are wishing for is a stable secretariat and the commission and would like you to serve us equally as political parties,” Moleleki said.

Moleleki urged Likoti and Pholo to ensure the IEC continues to “stand out in performing its functions”.

 

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