A team of Commonwealth observers has arrived in Maseru, the capital of Lesotho, to observe elections that will take place on 3 June. Prime Minister Bethuel Mosisili announced the elections in March following a no-confidence vote in parliament and the collapse of his coalition government.
The Commonwealth's Secretary-General, Patricia Scotland, visited Lesotho earlier in May. During her mission, political parties agreed to sign a pre-election peace pledge. The Christian Council of Lesotho has since facilitated the signing of this pledge which reaffirms commitment to conduct peaceful elections and to accept the results “when declared free and fair by duly authorized independent observers.”
The Commonwealth observer team is led by Mrs. Mmasekgoa Masire-Mwamba, a former Deputy Secretary-General of the Commonwealth. "We wish to commend all the political parties for reaffirming their commitment to peaceful, inclusive elections through a peace pledge, which they signed earlier this month," she stated on arrival.
"Our presence at this time will consider, among other things, the general preparedness of the country’s electoral systems and processes – including whether there is a level playing field that allows all political parties and all candidates to take their campaigns to the Basotho people; whether the voter register was compiled in such a way that all eligible voters who chose to register to vote had the ability to do so; and whether sufficiently robust mechanisms exist to ensure the integrity of the register. Additionally, we will consider whether the state apparatus and public media are impartial; whether freedom of expression is provided for; whether voters are free to express their will; and whether the results process is transparent and timely."
The Commonwealth observer group was invited by the country’s Independent Electoral Commission. It is made up of members whose expertise include governance, peace and security, electoral administration, human rights and law. The observers are supported by officials from the Commonwealth Secretariat.