Lesotho vote: PM's party moves ahead of opposition

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The party of Lesotho's longtime prime minister moved ahead of the main opposition as vote counting neared completion for the southern African country's parliamentary elections, the Independent Electoral Commission reported Monday.

The commission posted results from 70 of 80 constituencies on its website Monday evening. The tally showed Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili's Democratic Congress with 31 seats, and the All Basotho Convention with 26. Shortly before Saturday's vote in this nation of 2 million, Mosisili broke away from the Lesotho Congress for Democracy, which had been riven by an internal power struggle.

The Lesotho Congress for Democracy had 12 seats while another opposition party had one according to the counts Monday evening. Final results are expected Tuesday.

The Lesotho Congress for Democracy under Mosisili won elections in 1998, 2002 and 2007.

In the first decades after independence from Britain in 1966, Lesotho's military and its king repeatedly meddled in politics, weakening democracy. The king is now considered merely a figurehead.

After an army mutiny in 1998, South Africa, which surrounds mountainous Lesotho, led a military intervention. That was followed by political negotiations that led to electoral reforms meant to give a greater voice to the opposition to the entrenched Lesotho Congress for Democracy.

As part of the reforms, 40 seats allotted by proportional representation were added to parliament's 80 elected seats.