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Resolve PR seats dispute through talks

by Lesotho Times
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THE leader of the main opposition All Basotho Convention (ABC) party, Thomas Thabane, must be a broken man.

Thabane was at the centre of the opposition call for an indefinite stay-away to protest against the government’s handling of the proportional representation seats.

The stay-away was a huge flop as workers reported for work.

We saw last week how the ruling Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) party and the opposition flexed their muscles ahead of the stay-away.

The stay-away was a test of will for the two parties.

The government of Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili seemed to have been rattled by the opposition call.

But Mothetjoa Metsing, the government spokesman, was confident that the public would shun the stay-away.

From the way Metsing spoke on national television it was clear that the government expected people to ignore the stay-away.

The collapse of the stay-away has dealt a heavy blow to opposition forces in Lesotho.

One could, from now on, expect some arrogance from the ruling party which now believes it has the upper hand.

The momentum has shifted away from the opposition to the ruling party.

It is the LCD which now has an upper hand.

The LCD will certainly resist any talk of redistributing PR seats in parliament.

It is calling the shots with the opposition virtually politically castrated.

The government has refused to re-allocate the disputed seats.

I do not see how the government will shift an inch on      the matter when it publicly rejected Sir Ketumile Masire’s proposals to deal with the issue.

Mosisili has told his supporters that no electoral experts will be allowed into the country to deal with the matter.

My assessment is that Thabane and company launched the ill-planned political action on Monday in a bid to arm-twist the ruling party to play ball on the PR seats issue.

The stay-away was badly executed.

Workers and the business community ignored the stay-away.

It would appear people were not convinced that it was important to heed the call this time.

Thabane failed to mobilise enough people to support the stay-away.

Now he must be an extremely disappointed man.

On the other hand Mosisili appeared to be afraid of the impact the stay-away would have on the country.

His government deployed heavily armed soldiers on the streets of Maseru.

The soldiers were all over Maseru like a swarm of locusts.

Sure, Mosisili  could not afford to take any chances.

It seemed the country was facing a direct military threat from a foreign hostile country.

The government ensured that civil servants turned up for work at all costs.

The government ensured that buses were on the streets to ferry people to work.

Did the government over-react in its response to the stay-away?

But given the history of this country it was critical that the authorities did not take any chances.

Now that the stay-away has come and gone it is important for the country to move on.

Of course Mosisili has defiantly refused to allow electoral experts into the country.

The government says even if it is found that the Independent Electoral Commission erred in its allocation of PR seats the matter should only be resolved at the next elections in 2012.

Why is the government refusing to allow the experts to come and help deal with the matter?

We expect the government and the opposition to talk and find common ground on the PR seats issue.

The LCD and the opposition must sit down and talk to resolve this dispute. It is the interests of the country to take this progressive route.

It is a give and take situation for the two warring sides.

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