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Lesotho Faces Political Instability as Polls Open Friday


A woman covered with a blanket casts her vote at a poling station in Maseru, Lesotho, Oct. 7, 2022.

The small kingdom of Lesotho, surrounded by South Africa, is voting Friday with more than 50 parties competing and few hopes of an end to the country's run of unstable coalitions.

Lesotho's ruling All Basotho Convention — or ABC — is vying for reelection in Friday's parliamentary polls. But whether it has maintained a majority of support among the mountain kingdom's 1.5 million voters is uncertain.

The former British colony has seen coups, attempted coups and general political instability since independence in 1966. The past decade has been marked by regular political turnover, with no one premier managing to hold onto power for a full five-year term.

People line up to cast their votes at a polling station in Thaba-Tseka District, 82km east of Maseru, Lesotho, Oct. 7, 2022.
People line up to cast their votes at a polling station in Thaba-Tseka District, 82km east of Maseru, Lesotho, Oct. 7, 2022.

The ABC came to power in 2017.

Current Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro is not seeking reelection, having been replaced as party leader this year by former health minister Nkaku Kabi. The outgoing parliament also failed to pass a series of reforms aimed at improving political stability.

The ABC now faces fierce opposition.

There are more than 50 parties running for control of the 120-seat parliament. The leading opponent and second-largest party is the Democratic Congress.

But a new party, Revolution for Prosperity, could also make headway at the polls.

It's the best-resourced, and led by millionaire Sam Matekane, who is believed to be the richest man in a country where nearly a third of citizens are estimated to live on less than $2 a day.

Whether voters turn out strongly for any party is another unknown, after less than half of those registered cast a ballot in 2017.

Results are expected next week.

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