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Results trickle in after Lesotho election

Vote results were trickling in on Sunday in Lesotho after a snap election held to resolve a political crisis triggered by an alleged coup bid last year.

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

But results were slow to come in Sunday, with only a few districts tallied and none officially declared by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) by noon.

“In Lesotho, we don’t count the votes electronically, we count them manually,” said IEC official Rethabile Pholo.

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

On 30 August, 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 topple him.

About 1.2 million people were registered to vote in the regionally brokered poll.

Pholo said the laborious counting system was further hampered by Lesotho’s mountainous terrain, often requiring the use of helicopters.

“Mercifully, the weather has held up and the choppers were able to fly in and out of the voting areas to collect the votes and transport them to the district offices” that communicate the results to the IEC, Pholo said.

About the size of Belgium and completely landlocked by its larger neighbour South Africa, Lesotho is one of the world’s poorest countries.

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