n African Journal on Conflict Resolution - Electoral reform and political stability in Lesotho

Volume 4, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1562-6997


Although somewhat chequered, Lesotho's political and constitutional history has been relatively smooth and peaceful compared to what was experienced by many African countries. The struggle for independence and the ultimate handover of power to the Basotho King by Britain were free of violence. Yet this did not lead to a stable and consensual post-colonial society in Lesotho. Intermittent peace-threatening episodes pervade Lesotho's 37-year period of independence. This notwithstanding, the country has enjoyed short periods of constitutional rule, the first being from 1966 to 1970 while the second roughly extends from 1993 to today, that is 2003. What might have been a democratic transition for Lesotho was dealt a severe blow by Chief Jonathan's annulment of the first post-independence elections, which he had lost to his rival, Ntsu Mokhehle. Because of a 20-year one-party rule that followed, constitutionalism as understood today to mean espousal of certain values about the fundamentals of government and governance was barely able to take root within the Lesotho polity. The return in 1993 to constitutional rule and the reinstatement of popular elections as formulae for distributing power and appointing rulers are still the focus of party-political contentions as these are not anchored in an electoral system with an in-built conflict resolution mechanism. This paper explores these issues.

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