AU approves short-term observation mission to Lesotho

Pretoria: The chairperson African Union Commission, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, has approved the deployment of an African Union Short-Term Observation (STO) Mission to the 28 February Parliamentary Elections in Lesotho.

The mission, which has been deployed since Friday, will complement the work of the AU long-term experts, who have been deployed since January and will remain in Lesotho until 14 March 2015.

The six long-term experts will be joined by 40 short-term observers drawn from African Electoral Management Bodies (EMBs), civil society organisations, human right institutions, think tanks, women groups, the Pan-African Parliament (PAP), Regional Economic Communities (RECs), and the Permanent Representatives’ Committee (PRC) of the African Union to support the work of the long-term experts and observe the election day activities.

The mission will be led by Former Prime Minister of Kenya Raila Amolo Odinga.

“As part of his activities, the mission leader will meet relevant stakeholders in Lesotho, including the leaders of political parties, the chairperson of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), the Chief Justice, political parties, civil society organisations, security agencies and other electoral observation missions,” the AU said in a statement on Monday.

The AUEOM has a mandate to observe, collect and analyze data on the 28 February Parliamentary Elections in line with relevant African Union instruments such as the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance, the OAU/AU Declaration on the Principles Governing Democratic Elections in Africa and the African Union Guidelines for Election Observation and Monitoring Missions.

“The main objective of the mission is to make an independent, objective and impartial assessment of the elections. The mission will issue its preliminary findings 48 hours after the close of polls and will release its final report with recommendations within two months after the elections.”

Meanwhile, the SADC Troika meeting on Friday confirmed that the political atmosphere and security situation are conducive to hold elections as scheduled.

The summit – which was attended by Presidents of Zimbabwe, Botswana, Malawi, South Africa, Lesotho and Namibia – called on all stakeholders in Lesotho to abide by the commitments made in the three SADC-brokered agreements, specifically the Maseru Facilitation Declaration, Maseru Security Accord and Electoral Pledge.

The summit condemned any actions that may compromise the holding of peaceful, free, fair and credible elections.

In their communique after the summit, the leaders approved the extension of the Status of Forces Agreement for the deployment in Lesotho for another three months until 31 March 2015 and called on stakeholders to pay attention to security sector and constitutional reforms, post the 2015 Parliamentary Elections, with the support of SADC.