6 April 2017

Lesotho: Jubilee Parties' Merger Should Be Emulated - Lesotho Minister

Lesotho's Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing says the decision by the ruling Jubilee coalition to dissolve smaller parties and form a large one should be copied around Africa for the sake of national unity.

Mr Metsing, who spoke while an a two-day visit to Kenya, said he was in the country to learn the "noble project" by President Uhuru Kenyatta in merging small parties to form one party, as opposed to a coalition.

"Bringing political parties together ultimately brings the country together," he told journalists in Nairobi.

"We think this is the right way to go because in many of our countries, there is a mushrooming of political parties.

"In the end that also has the tendency of dividing the nations. The smaller the (number of) parties, the better coherence you have," he added.

Mr Metsing was speaking after meeting with Meru Senator Kiraitu Murungi who is in the Jubilee presidential campaign team.

The Jubilee Party was formed in October 2016 after President Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto convinced more than a dozen political parties to dissolve.

NOMINATIONS

The party plans to hold primaries on April 21 and it will be a test on how the interest of erstwhile small party leaders will be met during this tough contest.

Already, the party says it will hire up to 20,000 clerks to conduct the nominations which will involve fake-proof ballot papers.

"They came to see what their brothers and sisters are doing here as they prepare for their own elections in Lesotho and we are very happy to have a nice, friendly discussion with them and sharing experiences with them," Mr Murungi told reporters.

"This was a courtesy call. It was actually the initial visit by a political party from that country. But you know the Chinese say even a journey of a thousand miles begins with a step," added the Meru senator who is now eyeing the county's governorship.

NO INFLUENCE

Mr Murungi was quick to clarify that the visit to Jubilee did not mean there was outside influence to help them win, perhaps being aware of how the party's rivals could pounce of the visit to claim so.

"Jubilee is winning these elections with the support of Kenyans and indeed our Constitution does not allow a political party to get external assistance for the purpose of winning an election.

"What there is a friendship and our brother has not come to help us win an election," said Mr Murungi.

Mr Metsing has been the deputy premier of the southern African enclave since 2012.

His own country will be holding elections on June 3 where his coalition of seven parties will seek to remain in power.

He belongs to the Lesotho Congress for Democracy, which has been coalescing with various parties.

LESOTHO

The monarchy with about 2.2 million people has gone through political turmoil recently.

In August 2014, then Prime Minister Thomas Thabane fled to South Africa claiming a coup plot.

Pretoria mediated in the conflict, forcing an election in February 2015.

In March 2017, Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili of the Democratic Congress who came to power in 2015, lost a vote of no confidence, meaning that the country will have another early election in June.

During his visit to Kenya, Mr Metsing met with President Uhuru Kenyatta and later the Jubilee Party Secretary-General Raphael Tuju.

However, he denied endorsing the party ahead of the August elections.

"We have expressed our willingness to work with the Jubilee party... but the choice [Kenyans make] is their sovereign right and we cannot interfere with that but Jubilee are our friends.

"It is not about endorsements, it is just about the friendship because we have similar responsibilities at that level and we face similar challenges in our countries," said Mr Metsing.

Lesotho

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