On 17 September 1998, demonstrators closed down businesses and government offices in Lesotho as protests against the outcome of the 23 May 1998 election results intensified. The protests were organized by opposition parties and candidates who cited electoral irregularities which they claimed resulted in victory for the Lesotho Congress for Democrats (LCD). Under the leadership of Bethuel Phakalitha Mosisili the newly formed LCD won 78 of the 80 seats in parliament. Mosisili was then inaugurated as Prime Minister of Lesotho. In an attempt to nullify the outcome of the elections, 200 opposition candidates filed a High Court application to challenge the electoral process and demand access to electoral papers. When the court ruled in their favour and they were granted access to electoral papers evidence of electoral irregularities emerged. This in turn sparked more anti-government protests with an estimated 2000 people taking part. In early August crowds besieged the royal palace of King Lestie, demanding him to use his power to annul the election. On 17 September 1998 the protesters closed government offices in Maseru, the capital city. After appeals for assistance by Lesotho to Southern African Development Community (SADC) and South Africa, Judge Pius Langa the Deputy President of the South African Constitutional Court was appointed to investigate the allegations filed by opposition politicians. His report concluded that although there were electoral irregularities in the elections, they were not sufficient to nullify the outcome of the election. While the aggrieved parties were engaging in deliberations on the report, mutiny broke out in the Lesotho Defence Forces (LDF). Junior military officers sided with the opposition resulting in the flight of some senior commanders to South Africa. On 22 September 1998, South African and Botswana
troops were deployed by SADC to Lesotho to restore order. South Africa's mediation restored the LCD to power with recommendations that elections must held in eighteen months. Furthermore, an Interim Political Authority (IPA), consisting of two members from each of the twelve political parties that contested the elections in May 1998, was established to oversee the process towards elections.
Southall, R. and Fox, R. (1999) 'Lesotho's General Election of 1998: rigged or de rigueur?' in The Journal of Modern African Studies, 37 4, pp.669-696.|
Europa Publications (2003) Regional Survey s of the World: Africa South of the Sahara, 33rd ed, London, p.586|
Commonwealth Observer Group, (1998) 'The Lesotho National Assembly Elections 23 May 1998', The Report of the Commonwealth Observer Group, London, p.4