Lesotho citizens were scheduled to vote in an election on Friday, following years of political unrest in the southern African mountain kingdom.
The election will take place despite a parliamentary deadlock on a slew of major constitutional reforms that were supposed to be enacted ahead of the vote to bring order to Lesotho’s fractious politics.
“These elections will be hotly contested, and the DC and RFP appear to be neck and neck,” said Lesotho political analyst Lefu Thaela. He added that while DC is likely to receive the most votes, if they do not win an outright majority, the outgoing ABC will become kingmakers.
Lesotho’s high-altitude springs, surrounded on all sides by South African mountains, provide vital freshwater to its parched neighbour, supplying its commercial hub, Johannesburg.
After being charged with the murder of his ex-wife, ABC leader Thomas Thabane resigned as Prime Minister in 2020. He maintained his innocence, and the charges were later dropped.
Since its independence from Britain in 1966, Lesotho has experienced four military coups.
In 1998, opposition riots in Maseru prompted South Africa to deploy troops to restore order.
In 2014, then-prime minister Thabane fled the country, accusing the military of overthrowing him, forcing South Africa to intervene to restore order and allow his return.