Lesotho party led by a diamond magnate won the most seats in last week’s election, but fell short of an overall majority, the election commission said on Monday, raising the prospect of more political gridlock.
The populist Revolution for Prosperity (RFP) party emerged as the single biggest party with 56 seats, but now needs to court other groups to control the southern African mountain kingdom’s 120-member parliament.
Should RFP, formed by wealthy businessman Sam Matekane in March, secure control of a majority in parliament through coalitions, it would pave the way for the first change in government there in more than five years.
Lesotho has been marred by years of political instability under the current governing party, the All Basotho Convention (ABC), which has run the country of 2.14 million people since 2017. Divisions within the party have given it two prime ministers over that time.
RFP has promised to do away with rampant corruption and nepotism and focus on economic growth by levelling the playing field for businesses.
“Matekane’s victory is a clear picture that Basotho (the people of Lesotho) are tired of people who do not deliver when in power,” political analyst Lefu Thaela said as the votes were being counted on Sunday night with the RFP taking a strong lead.
The election went ahead despite a deadlock in parliament on a whole gamut of major constitutional reforms that were meant to be enacted ahead of the vote in order to bring order to the country’s fractious politics.
In Lesotho’s national assembly, 80 seats are won through “first-past-the-post” voting and the rest allocated using proportional representation, under which parties get seats based on their total national votes.