Lesotho held its general election on 7 October. Of the 65 political parties that contested the election, the newly formed Revolution for Prosperity (RFP) party emerged with the largest presence in the National Assembly, the lower house of Lesotho’s Parliament, winning 56 of the 120 seats - members of Lesotho’s upper house, the Senate, are not elected. The RFP’s failure to win a majority of seats meant they have had to form a coalition government with the Alliance of Democrats and the Movement for Economic Change. The government is headed by RFP’s leader, Sam Matekane, who was sworn in as Prime Minister on 28 October. Voter turnout was 34.7 per cent, 9.0 per cent lower than in the last general election in 2017. The preliminary findings of international observers praised the elections for being well run and peaceful, but raised concerns about poorly regulated campaign finance, a lack of independent information, and the low representation of women (they accounted for just 33.0 per cent of candidates).
On 12 September, Lesotho’s Constitutional Court struck down a long-awaited package of constitutional reforms that had been passed less than two weeks earlier to pave the way for next month’s general election. The passage of the reforms, which were intended to tackle the country’s notorious political instability, had come after the dissolution of parliament for the election, and had been made possible only by Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro declaring a State of Emergency that allowed him to recall parliament. The Court, however, judged the declaration to be unconstitutional, finding that the circumstances did not amount to a state of emergency. The ruling was then confirmed by the Court of Appeal on 19 September and so the country will now hold the election under an unreformed framework. This may risk further instability. However, the Southern African Litigation Centre, a human rights organization, welcomed the ruling’s reinforcement of the rule of law.
On 29 August Lesotho’s Parliament passed a long-awaited package of constitutional reforms that pave the way for the country’s general elections, which are scheduled to take place on 7 October 2022. The reforms are aimed at tackling the constitutional causes of the political instability that have plagued the country in recent years and threatened the integrity of the forthcoming elections, including excessive prime ministerial powers, a lack of judicial independence, a weak parliament, politicized security agencies and a lack of media independence. Details of the legislation, as passed, are yet to emerge in the media. The passage of the reforms after the constitutionally mandated dissolution of parliament in July and before the general election was made possible only by the Prime Minister, Moeketsi Majoro, declaring a State of Emergency. The reform process began in 2012.