Lesotho has headed to the polls as the Commonwealth Observer Group (COG) expressed concerns that voter roll caused confusion and disenfranchised voters in some areas.
The country voted to choose the Members of Parliament who, in turn, will decide who becomes the next Prime Minister.
Polling began on 7 October with over 800,000 people registered to vote across 10 districts.
Voters must pass through a series of checks to cast their ballots.
First, they need to produce a form of identification or be verified by the local chief. After their names are checked off the list of eligible voters, voters enter a polling booth and put a tick or a cross on the ballot paper next to their preferred candidate or party’s symbol before depositing it in a box. After voting, their fingers are marked with indelible ink.
Advance polling took place on 30 September to allow public servants who work in all Lesotho embassies, party agents, Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) officials, security forces, election observers, private security officials, and journalists, to vote.
Commonwealth Observers were stationed across the country to witness the procedure.
Releasing its interim statement in Maseru, the COG said that the Basotho people exercised their electoral choices in a peaceful manner.
“Some polling stations and party agents did not have final copies of the voter’s roll even on election day,” said Chairperson of the Group, former President of Seychelles, Danny Faure.
“Some voters could not find their names on the rolls, and some were directed to other constituencies due to boundary delimitation exercises that changed their voting stations.”
The Group added that: “the IEC and the legislator should review the procedures for compilation of the voter register to better ensure its reliability, in particular as regards duplicates, removal of deceased persons, and inclusion of youth.
“Finalising the voters’ roll at an earlier point in the process would enable an electronic copy to be issued to parties further in advance.”
The Group arrived in Lesotho on 27 September, and observed preparations for the pre-poll, polling period and counting in many polling places across the 10 districts of the Kingdom.
The Group’s final report will be submitted to the Commonwealth Secretary-General and subsequently made available to the Government of Lesotho, political parties, the IEC and the public.
Lesotho has a bicameral Parliament consisting of the Senate with 33 seats and the National Assembly with 120 seats.
The 120 members of the National Assembly are elected using the mixed-member proportional representation system, with voters casting two votes. 80 members are elected from single-member constituencies by first-past-the-post voting, with the remaining 40 elected using the proportional representation system.