1m ready to cast votes

Lesotho Election crisis: Prime Minister Phakalitha Mosisili of Lesotho. 
Pic. Simon Mathebula. 
31/5/02.
© ST.
Lesotho Election crisis: Prime Minister Phakalitha Mosisili of Lesotho. Pic. Simon Mathebula. 31/5/02. © ST.

MASERU - Lesotho heads into its fourth general election tomorrow with the ruling party fighting off a challenge from one of its former leading lights.

MASERU - Lesotho heads into its fourth general election tomorrow with the ruling party fighting off a challenge from one of its former leading lights.

About 900000 registered voters are entitled to cast their ballots in landlocked Lesotho, a beautiful but impoverished nation where nearly one in three of the population is affected by Aids.

Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili, pictured, will be hoping his Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) will secure a third term of office, but analysts say victory over the All Basotho Convention (ABC) is far from certain.

The elections, scheduled for May, were moved up after former foreign minister Tom Thabane led a breakaway faction to form the ABC on October 9 on a populist ticket of fighting poverty and corruption.

A flurry of floor-crossings prompted Mosisili to dissolve parliament in November in a bid to prevent the ABC from gaining momentum among voters.

But Thabane has expressed confidence that he can secure victory and alter the status quo.

"I urge all Basotho to vote for ABC because ABC can provide the option for all Basotho to unite and fight the real enemy, namely poverty and hunger," said Thabane, who was once tipped to succeed Mosisili.

Since independence in 1967, the former British protectorate has experienced political instability that tends to intensify at election time.

Mosisili said: "In [the last election] our priority was peace and stability after the turmoil in 1998.

"Our manifesto now sets as a priority service to the people in the next five years that would translate into economic growth, which would in turn reduce poverty." - Sapa-AFP

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