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Lesotho clears another election obstacle

Lesotho’s upper house of parliament has finally settled on the number of seats and the composition of the country’s national assembly, paving the way for general elections to be held early next year. The tiny kingdom’s upper house agreed on Thursday that the national assembly would consist of 120 members, 80 of them elected by the ‘first past the post’ method and 40 of them through proportional representation, Minister of Justice Shakhane Mokhehle told IRIN on Friday. The development was seen as a significant step towards ensuring that Lesotho holds its general election, initially planned for May 2001, early next year. Lack of agreement between the country’s two legislative bodies over the national assembly - with the upper house wanting an 80-50 split and the lower house wanting an 80-40 split - has been one of the major obstacles to securing an early poll. Another had been a dispute between the country’s multi-party Interim Political Authority and the government over the method of voter registration. That dispute was resolved recently when it was decided that the Independent Electoral Commission would make the final decision on the issue. Mokhehle told IRIN that the law passed on Thursday would eventually have to be signed into law by King Letsie III. “From here the law goes back to the national assembly for it to confirm the Senate amendments. Once the national assembly accepts the amendments, the bill will be passed on to the king who will pass it into law,” he said.

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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