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Lesotho holds general elections

JOHANNESBURG, May 27 — Voters went to the polls in Lesotho's general elections on Saturday amid concerns about possible unrest due to political instability in the mountainous kingdom.

The election pitted the new Democratic Congress (DC) party, led by Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili, against other two main parties – the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) and the All Basotho Convention (ABC).

The voting was reminiscent of the 1998 election when violence erupted, prompting South Africa to intervene militarily. Lesotho is an enclave bordered on all sides by South Africa.

But Saturday's voting went on relatively peaceful as voters cast their votes under heavy security, according to reports reaching here.

There were signs of discontent with the 14-year-old rule of Mosisili, who rose to power in the controversial 1998 vote, whose result was endorsed by observers but rejected by the opposition.

Mosisili's DC party is expected to do best but without a clear majority, analysts said. That would mean that Mosisili would have to force a coalition with LCD and ABC. Failure to do so would probably lead to riots similar to those in 1998 when at least 58 locals and eight South African soldiers died and large parts of Maseru were damaged.

"There is an atmosphere of change, but it is predominantly in the urban centers, which is in the minority in terms of the way our constituencies are demarcated," said Hoolo Nyane, director of the Transformation Resource Center, a think-tank in Maseru.

Lesotho, which gained independence from Britain in 1996, has undergone a number of military coups. But the army and police reportedly assured that they would not take sides in this year's election. (PNA/Xinhua) DCT/rsv/rsm

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