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Lesotho Politics

State and politics

Lesotho is, according to the constitution, a democratic monarchy. King since 1990, with a brief break in 1995-96, is Letsie III. See ABBREVIATIONFINDER for how LS can stand for Lesotho.

Political System of Lesotho

GOVERNMENT

Democratization began in Lesotho in 1993, when elections were held and a new constitution was adopted which gives the king only symbolic function. Parliament is legislative. It consists of two chambers, one of which is a senate with 22 traditional chieftains and eleven members appointed by the ruling party, and partly by the National Assembly which since 2002 has 120 elected members, 80 of whom are elected in direct elections with one-man constituencies and the others after a proportional system since the votes from all over the country are counted. The term of office is five years. The Prime Minister is appointed by Parliament.

Policy

The formerly leading party Basotho Congress Party (BCP) burst in 1997 and the majority of members joined the new Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD). In the 1998 elections, the party won the entire 78 out of 80 seats. The losers accused LCD of electoral fraud, and in the troubled situation, free South Africa and Botswana intervened in the name of democracy and stability. A provisional executive power was appointed, the Interim Political Authority (IPA), to prepare a new electoral system and new elections in 2002. Catholic and Anglican archbishops were also involved in the attempts to make peaceful and open elections.

LCD gained an overwhelming majority in 2002 and 2007, with 77 and 61 respectively of the directly elected mandates and the same number in total. However, the party has been characterized by fragmentation throughout the 2000s and both the Lesotho People's Congress (LPC) and the All Basotho Convention (ABC) have been formed through outbreaks from the LCD. In 2012, Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili left the party and formed the Democratic Congress (DC). By bringing 45 of LPC's MPs with him, Mosisili was able to form a new government. DC in May became the largest party in the parliamentary elections in May, but since ABC's leader Tom Thabane managed to form a coalition with, among other things, LCD, he was appointed new prime minister.

The year before, the government and the opposition agreed on a new electoral law that would prevent conflicts of the kind that followed the 2007 election. When LCD 2014 threatened to conduct a vote of confidence, Thabane chose to suspend Parliament. In connection with Thabane's dismissal of the country's army chief later that year, gunfire occurred in the capital Maseru and the prime minister's residence was surrounded by soldiers. Thabane described the situation as a coup attempt and temporarily fled to South Africa. After South African mediation, new elections were announced until February 2015. DC again became the largest party and Mosisili, with the support of several smaller parties, was able to regain government power.

After some time in exile, Thabane returned to Lesotho in early 2017. He initiated a vote of confidence in Parliament, which Mosisili lost. New elections were announced in which ABC became the largest party and Thabane again took office as prime minister.

Judiciary

The legal system in Lesotho includes colonial, domestic and local customary law. Otherwise, South African and some English law is applied. The highest court is the Court of Appeal. Among the subordinate bodies, certain courts are engaged in the application of customary law. The death penalty is punished for some serious crimes.

Heads of State

Kings

1966-90 Moshoeshoe II
1990-95 Letsie III
1995-96 Moshoeshoe II
1996- Letsie III
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