Lesotho votes in snap elections

A resident casts her ballot for the parliamentary elections at a polling station in LesothoVoting at more than 2,000 polling stations began early on Saturday

Lesotho is voting in snap elections aimed at resolving tensions among the nation’s warring political factions.

About 1.2 million people are registered to vote in the poll.

Last year, Prime Minister Thomas Thabane suspended parliament to avoid a motion that would have ousted him as head of the coalition government.

He later fled, saying he was the target of a coup attempt, after the military – known to have links to the opposition – attacked the police headquarters.

He soon returned escorted by South African police and is now contesting the election.

Lesotho is completely surrounded by South Africa, which played a key role mediating.

Prime Minister Thomas Thabane casting his vote in Lesotho's electionsPrime Minister Thomas Thabane has cast his vote

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At the scene: Nomsa Maseko, BBC News

The people of Lesotho started queuing very early this morning to cast their ballot, in these closely monitored elections.

The battle for the top post has intensified following an uneasy coalition between three political parties.

Prime Minister Thomas voted amid heavy police presence here in his home village.

The main political parties have allies in the security forces, with police seen as siding with Mr Thabane.

His deputy Mothejoa Metsing enjoys the support of the military which has been ordered to remain in the barracks during the elections.

Campaigning for the election has been relatively peaceful but there are fears violence could erupt if the outcome is disputed.

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People queuing to vote in Lesotho's electionsAbout 1.2 million people are registered to vote

The South African deputy president, Cyril Ramaphosa, helped broker a deal to bring elections forward by two years in an effort to restore stability.

“I am expecting peace after this election. We are used to hunger and poverty,” 77-year-old pensioner Mmamakgobe Makgobe told Reuters.

There are 23 politicians vying for the top post, with another coalition likely, according to analysts.

A final result may not emerge for days due to the remoteness of some communities voting.

South African policeman observe at Lesotho's electionsThe Southern Africa Development Community regional group has sent security

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-31671926#sa-ns_mchannel=rss&ns_source=PublicRSS20-sa