Secretary-General, Patricia Scotland, will send observers to support Lesotho’s National Assembly elections scheduled for 3 June 2017, the Commonwealth Secretariat announced today. This follows a formal invitation from the Independent Electoral Commission of Lesotho and consultations between the Secretary-General and a broad range of stakeholders during her maiden visit to the country in April.

Prime Minister Bethuel Mosisili announced the elections in March following a no-confidence vote in parliament and the collapse of the coalition government. During the Secretary-General’s mission to Lesotho, political parties agreed to sign a pre-election peace pledge. The Christian Council of Lesotho has since facilitated the signing of this pledge which reaffirms commitment to conduct peaceful elections and to accept the results “when declared free and fair by duly authorised independent observers”

“These elections are crucial for the people of Lesotho, and it’s our hope that they’ll help deepen democracy and consolidate political stability,” said Secretary-General Scotland. “When I visited Lesotho last month, my aim was to encourage political parties, the media and all relevant stakeholders to support peaceful and credible elections. A small but strong group of Commonwealth observers will be present to observe the elections and to work in partnership with Lesotho and other stakeholders towards strengthening and embedding electoral democracy by sharing best practice.”

She continued, “As underscored during my visit, the responsibility for conducting credible and peaceful elections falls on all concerned - from the election management body, to political parties, especially their leaders, civil society, security agencies, the media and the electorate. Each stakeholder has a constitutional duty and responsibility to ensure a credible process and a peaceful outcome.”

Mmasekgoa Masire-Mwamba, former Commonwealth Deputy Secretary-General, will lead the Commonwealth Observer Group, which will consider the pre-electoral environment and election preparations. On election day, the group will observe the voting process, vote-counting procedures and the announcement of results, according to international standards for democratic elections, to which Lesotho has committed.

As with all Commonwealth Observer Groups, it will function with impartiality and independence, and will conduct itself according to the standards set out in the International Declaration of Principles for Election Observation, to which the Commonwealth is a signatory.

The Group will submit its final report to the Commonwealth Secretary-General, who will in turn share it with the Government of the Kingdom of Lesotho, the Independent Electoral Commission, Lesotho’s political parties, relevant civil society organisations and eventually with all Commonwealth governments. This report will then be made public.