Lesotho’s electoral authorities have claimed that they erroneously distributed parliamentary seats following an Oct. 7 election, and have asked the country’s highest court to modify the allocations and delay the legislature’s first sitting, court filings showed on Saturday.
The populist Revolution for Prosperity (RFP) party, established by diamond magnate Sam Matekane, won the most seats in this month’s election but fell short of a majority in the southern African kingdom’s 120-member parliament.
Last week, the party struck a coalition deal with two other opposition parties as the nation strives to emerge from years of political instability under the former ruling All Basotho Convention, which had been in power since 2017.
While the coalition’s majority would barely be affected by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) error, the issue could raise wider questions about the election results, analysts said.
“If push comes to a shove, there are parties which might even insist that the elections were not credible after all and start challenging the whole election process,” said independent political analyst Lefu Thaela.
In Lesotho’s national assembly, 80 seats are won through “first-past-the-post” voting, with the rest allocated using proportional representation, under which parties get seats based on their total national vote.
On Saturday, the court papers showed, the IEC asked the Constitutional Court for an order “reviewing, correcting and setting aside” the allocation of compensatory seats, or those allocated using proportional representation.
It said the Democratic Congress party, the main opposition party, had erroneously been awarded 11 compensatory seats instead of eight, while the Alliance of Democrats (AD) was wrongly allocated three compensatory seats instead of two.
AD is the only affected party in the RFP-led coalition, holding five of the alliance’s 65 seats. Should the court uphold the election authorities’ findings, AD would lose one seat.
“Small as this may look on our part, it shows some incompetence on the part of the IEC,” AD leader Monyane Moleleki told Reuters, saying that the mistake did not warrant a full audit of the election results.
The IEC also asked the court to postpone a special meeting of parliament’s National Assembly scheduled to take place on Tuesday until the court delivers its judgment on the seat allocations, the court papers showed.