afrol News, 5 May - Lesotho has been marred by election violence at several occasions, only barely avoiding clashes after the 2007 polls. Now, a two-year mediation process has ended in compromise.
The 2007 elections in the kingdom of Lesotho again produced deep grievances between political parties after the electoral system - widely seen as unfair and favouring the ruling party - gave Prime Minister Pakalitha Bethuel Mosisili's party a larger parliamentary majority than represented by the votes.
In 2007, violence and clashes could be avoided, but the opposition strengthened its calls for electoral reforms and more credible polls.
In 2009, Lesotho's authorities and the electoral commission agreed to talks with the opposition, which had gathered some international support for their claims. The Christian Council of Lesotho (CCL) and the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) agreed to spearhead the mediation process.
Now, two years later, the CCL and SADC announce that the mediation process has been formally and successfully concluded. "All the issues to the dialogue had been dealt with, thus paving way for the next elections" in 2012, SADC says in a communiqué.
The main result of the mediation process has been a major overhaul of Lesotho's electoral legislation. Both the Electoral Act and Lesotho's constitution have been successfully amended in the Maseru parliament.
The law reforms will assure a more proportional representation of members of parliament and will strengthen the role and credibility of the Independent Electoral Commission.
"As stakeholders, we are pleased to announce to the Basotho nation that we are confident that the law reforms we proposed will go a long way towards paving way for peaceful, free and fair elections," a recent statement says.
This week, Lesotho's successful mediation process was hailed as a victory and as an example by the international community, including SADC and the UN.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon hailed the process, saying that "through dialogue, the Basotho stakeholders have resolved these grievances and agreed on the reforms needed to pave the way for the holding of peaceful and credible elections in 2012."
Lesotho's mediation process could prove a model for other African countries, where elections regularly threaten to provoke clashes.
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