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Lesotho Ruling Party Extends Lead in Early Election Results


Lesotho's ruling party has taken a commanding lead in early results from Saturday's parliamentary elections.

Incomplete returns show that the Lesotho Congress for Democracy has won at least 49 of the 80 contested seats.

A new opposition group, the All Basotho Convention, trailed with 17 seats. Final results are expected later Tuesday.

Last October, a defection by 18 lawmakers, led by Communications Minister Tom Thabane, to form the All Basotho Convention forced the government to call early elections. The new party promised to fight poverty, corruption, and one of the world's high rates of AIDS.

The All Basotho Convention has complained of irregularities in Saturday's vote, but international observers say the voting has gone well.

Disputed election results in 1998 sparked widespread violence. However, observers credit the introduction of proportional representation in 2002 with improving subsequent elections.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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