Invitation and composition of the expert team
This report presents the observations, conclusions and recommendations of the Commonwealth Expert Team which was present in Lesotho for the Local Government Elections held on 30 April 2005.
The decision to send an Expert Team followed an invitation from the Independent Electoral Commission (see letter of invitation and response to invitation in Annex C). The Team was organised by the Commonwealth Secretariat and the Commonwealth Local Government Forum and consisted of:
Councillor John E Otekat
Chairperson of the Commonwealth Local Government Forum,
President of the Uganda Local Government Association and
Chairperson of Soroti District
Councillor Leslie Lynch
Councillor on San Fernando City Council and
Member of the Local Government Association
Trinidad and Tobago
Ms Angela Odah
Transition Monitoring Group (NGO Coalition)
The Team was assisted by a support staff member from the Commonwealth Secretariat:
Mr Linford Andrews
Political Affairs Officer
Political Affairs Division
Terms of reference
The Terms of Reference for the Group were as follows:
вЂњThe Commonwealth Expert Team is established by the Commonwealth Secretary-General at the request of the Government and the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) of Lesotho. It is to observe the preparations for the elections, the polling, counting and results process and the overall electoral environment and will submit its report to the Commonwealth Secretary-General and the Commonwealth Local Government Forum with recommendations, if appropriate, for Commonwealth technical assistance. The report will then be transmitted to the Government of Lesotho, the Independent Electoral Commission and the political parties. Thereafter
copies will be circulated to all Commonwealth governments and the report will be made public.вЂќ
The members of the Team were invited in their individual capacities and it was made clear in advance by means of a Circular to Commonwealth Governments and a press release (see Annex D) that the views they expressed regarding the elections would be their own and not those of their respective Governments, of the Commonwealth Secretariat or of the Commonwealth Local Government Forum.
Activities of the expert team
The Expert Team arrived in Lesotho on 23 April and began work by holding a series of briefing meetings in the Lesotho Sun Hotel. These are listed at Annex E. Some of these meetings provided information on the electoral process; others provided background on the overall environment in which the elections were being held. The Team was also provided with
various written briefing materials, including documentation on the electoral laws and a copy of the Presiding Officers Manual.
During a period of three days (25 вЂ“ 27 April), the Team was briefed by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), representatives of various political parties, Commonwealth High Commissioners and other diplomats, the media, civil society and the UNDP. The Team received their letters of accreditation from the IEC on 26 April.
On Wednesday 27 April members of the Team commenced their deployment, with one group travelling to Mokhotlong, and the second
group travelling to QachaвЂ™s Nek. The Team members were able to interact with voters and observe the political environment in several key districts. One team, consisting of Councillor Otekat and Ms Odah visited the districts of Mafeteng, MohaleвЂ™s Hoek, QachaвЂ™s Nek and Quthing. The second team, consisting of Councillor Lynch and Mr Andrews, covered the Butha-Buthe, Maseru, Mokhotlong and Thaba-Tseka districts.
During their deployment the teams toured their areas assessing the environment, meeting people, visiting district offices of the IEC and the Royal Lesotho Mounted Police, as well as observing the final preparations for the election. On Polling Day itself, 30 April, they were present at polling stations in time to observe their opening. They then visited as many stations as possible during the day and observed the closing procedure. The Teams then observed the counting of votes, which was conducted at all polling stations immediately after the closure of the polls.
The Teams were able to observe the count, and the sealing of the ballots. On polling day the Expert Team visited 32 polling stations in 8 districts1.
From 2 to 4 May the Expert Team prepared its report and held a number of follow-up meetings. It met the IEC and held consultations with the diplomatic and donor community (co-ordinated by the UNDP), to exchange information on its observations. The Team also met with the Opposition parties which had originally requested the postponement of the elections on the grounds of certain concerns not having been addressed by the IEC (see Issues). The Team departed Lesotho on Thursday 5 May 2005 and the report was transmitted to the Commonwealth Secretary-General and the Commonwealth Local Government Forum.
The following districts were covered by the Team: Butha-Buthe; Mafeteng; Maseru; MohaleвЂ™s Hoek; Mokhotlong; QachaвЂ™s Nek; Quthing; and Thaba-Tseka.