Lesotho goes to the polls in the new year

Lesotho will hold elections on February 17 after Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili's decision to dissolve parliament, state- run radio said yester day.

Lesotho will hold elections on February 17 after Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili's decision to dissolve parliament, state- run radio said yester day.

The government also said the last day for voters to register would be next Friday.

Out of a population of about 1,8million, about 900 000 voters have registered for the elections.

Some analysts say the decision to dissolve parliament and hold early elections was spurred by the recent launch of a new political party, the All Basotho Convention, by former foreign minister Tom Thabane, who resigned in October.

Thabane quit citing "poor service delivery and lack of implementation" and crossed the floor in Lesotho's 120-member national assembly with 18 legislators from the ruling Lesotho Congress for Democracy.

Thabane yesterday criticised the date, saying small opposition parties did not have enough time to prepare for the polls.

"We will have to observe the last date of registration and that of elections. But for under-resourced parties it is going to be difficult to mobilise within this short time," he said.

Lesotho gained independence from Britain in 1966 and has endured repeated political violence, a military coup and upheavals.

The last elections were held in 2002 and were generally deemed to have been the fairest ever. - Sapa-AFP

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