JOHANNESBURG (AP) – The party of the longtime prime minister won Lesotho’s parliamentary elections, according to complete results posted Tuesday on the website of the southern African country’s Independent Electoral Commission.
Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili’s Democratic Congress won 41 of 80 seats, the simple majority needed to form a government, though it may need to form a coalition to consolidate power. The All Basotho Convention, the main opposition, had 26 seats.
Shortly before Saturday’s vote in this nation of 2 million, Mosisili broke away from the Lesotho Congress for Democracy, which had been riven by an internal power struggle.
The Lesotho Congress for Democracy had 12 seats while another opposition party had one according to the final results.
Bakili Muluzi, a former president of Malawi who led a Commonwealth election observer mission to Lesotho, said in a statement Tuesday that the vote was peaceful and credible. He did, however, express concern about isolated incidents of violence, the need to improve vote registration and other issues.
“We congratulate the people of Lesotho for demonstrating faith in the principles of democracy,” Muluzi said in a statement.
“We reiterate our call on all political parties, their supporters and other stakeholders to continue to show restraint and magnanimity and to uphold their pre-election commitments to peace with the same spirit of national unity, peace and solidarity,” Muluzi added.
The Lesotho Congress for Democracy under Mosisili won elections in 1998, 2002 and 2007.
In the first decades after independence from Britain in 1966, Lesotho’s military and its king repeatedly meddled in politics, weakening democracy. The king is now considered merely a figurehead.
After an army mutiny in 1998, South Africa, which surrounds mountainous Lesotho, led a military intervention. That was followed by political negotiations that led to electoral reforms meant to give a greater voice to the opposition to the entrenched Lesotho Congress for Democracy.
As part of the reforms, 40 seats allotted by proportional representation were added to parliament’s 80 elected seats.