The Guardian
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Embattled Lesotho’s PM takes early lead in snap poll


THE results of Lesotho’s snap election following an alleged coup attempt last year trickled in slowly Sunday, with Prime Minister Thomas Thabane taking an early lead with nearly two thirds of the vote tallied.

Saturday’s parliamentary poll, which was called two years ahead of schedule, passed without incident according to observers.

But hampered by manual counting and Lesotho’s mountainous terrain, the results were slow to come in Sunday.

The small mountain kingdom has been in crisis since June 2014, when Thabane suspended parliament to avoid a motion that would have seen him ousted from power after his fragile coalition government fell apart.

On August 30, soldiers attacked police headquarters, looting weapons and killing one officer.

Thabane described the violence as a coup attempt fuelled by the opposition and fled to neighbouring South Africa. 

Both the military and opposition denied any bid to seize power. 

Observers from both regional bloc the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the African Union have been monitoring the election, and 475 police from neighbouring countries have been deployed to keep the peace.

The army was confined to barracks during Saturday’s vote.

Counting closed at 1700 GMT Sunday, with 47 of the 80 constituencies up for grabs officially declared by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC).

Thabane’s All Basotho Convention took an early lead with 35 seats.

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