Elections in a time of instability: challenges for Lesotho beyond the 2015 poll

Lesotho's February elections were considered a success, but political shortcomings continue to threaten long-term prospects for peace and development.

The Kingdom of Lesotho stands at a crossroads. After an attempted coup in August 2014, Parliament was prorogued and elections were brought forward by two years.

Lesotho citizens went to the polls on 28 February, but it is unlikely that the outcome of the election – a coalition led by the Democratic Congress – will solve the cyclical and structural shortcomings of the country’s politics.

Parties split and splinter; violence breaks out both before and after polls; consensus is non-existent, even among coalition partners, and manoeuvring for position trumps governing for the good of the country.

SADC’s ‘Track One’ mediation has had some success but it will take political commitment, currently lacking, to set Lesotho on a sustainable political and developmental path.

About the Author

Dimpho Motsamai joined the ISS in 2010 as a researcher in the Conflict Prevention and risk Analysis division. Her work focuses on the Southern African Development Community’s peace and security policies and structures; and security and conflict vulnerability dynamics in Swaziland, Lesotho, Zambia, botswana and Namibia and Mozambique. Dimpho studied at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) in Johannesburg and holds a master’s degree in international relations. She is currently pursuing a doctoral degree at the Wits School of governance.

Picture: ©Jacqueline Cochrane/ISS

Development partners
This report has been made possible with support from the government of the Netherlands. The ISS is also grateful for support from the other members of the ISS Partnership Forum: the governments of Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Japan, Norway, Sweden and the USA.
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