- Lesotho's new cabinet ministers have been sworn in at a ceremony led by Chief Justice Mahapela Lehohla in the presence of King Letsie III, Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili at the Royal Palace premises in the capital Maseru. Lesotho's February election were won by the ruling party, and despite previous concerns, went off violent-free and transparently.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Home Affairs and Public Safety, and of Parliamentary Affairs Mr. Lesao Lehohla was the first to take oath of true allegiance to King Letsie III and of service to the King and his office as minister.
According to a statement released by the government of Lesotho, most ministers were re-installed in the positions they held prior to the February elections. This included the portfolios of Gender and Youth, Local Government, Finance and Planning, Tourism and Environment and of Forestry and Land.
Monyane Moleleki has been sworn in as the Minister of Natural Resources while Dr 'Mamphono Khaketla is now the Minister of Education and Training. Mohlabi Tsekoa is Lesotho's new Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Relations. Several ministers have also swapped portfolios.
Other newly appointed ministers include Semano Sekatle, who has been appointed as the Minister of Public Service; Lesole Mokoma as Minister of Agriculture and Food Security; Dr. Mphu Ramatlapeng as Minister of Health and Social Welfare; and Ts'ele Chakela as Minister of Public Works and Transport.
The new cabinet in addition consists of six assistant ministers. Also here, most deputies stuck to their pre-election portfolio.
The number of women ministers has increased from five to six plus two additional assistant ministers.
The ceremony at the Royal Palace follows anticipated parliamentary polls that were held on 17 February and were won by the ruling Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD). The LDC took 61 constituencies out of 79. The ruling party had been challenged in parliament by breakaway MPs founding the All Basotho Convention (ABC), which won only 17 constituencies at the polls.
The fierce rhetoric between the LCD and the ABC - in addition to a history filled with violent election affairs - had caused many Basothos and foreign observers to fear violence during the campaign or after the election results were declared. The mountain kingdom however managed to organised one of its most peaceful elections ever.
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Parliamentary Observer Mission late last month declared Lesotho's general election process free and fair. Mission spokesman Patrick Balopi said the political environment within which the elections were conducted was generally "calm, peaceful, tolerant and conducive for the free exercise of the right to vote and be voted for."
Addressing the press in Maseru, Mr Balopi said this was evidenced by the final political rallies, which he said went on peacefully as supporters of the parties, interacted without incident.
Also the African Union (AU) observer mission said that the voters in Lesotho had demonstrated "an enviable degree of calmness" during the national elections. Te observers commended Lesotho on the conduct of the electoral process, was said to be "free and fair".
The AU mission however recommended that though to call sudden elections is legally viable, election time should in future be extended beyond 90 days limit and the electoral commission should intensify continuous voters' education. The AU mission also recommended that political parties should be made aware that they are solely liable for the poor turn-up at elections.
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