Zambia’s former president Rupiah Banda is expected to travel to Maseru, Lesotho on Monday where he is leading an 18-member election observation mission to the southern African nation next week’s National Assembly elections set for May 26.
Mr Banda is ‘President-in-residence’ at the Boston University African Presidential Center in Massachusetts, USA.
“Zambia former President Rupiah Banda has been appointed leader of the 18-member Election Observation Mission to the Kingdom of Lesotho for next week’s National Assembly elections in the small land-locked country, scheduled for May 26, 2012,”according to an emailed statement from his office.
“He [Mr Banda] will head the team of influential civil society and religious representatives under the auspices of the Electoral Institute of Southern Africa (EISA), whose patron is former President of Botswana, Sir Ketumile Masire.”
The statement said Mr Banda will meet various stakeholders including Lesotho’s King Letsie III and Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili prior to the elections.
“This is a huge honour that I do not take lightly. ‘‘Democracy is a precious commodity in Africa and I know only too well that we must protect it,” the statement quoted Mr Banda as saying.
In 2011, Mr Banda also acted as co-leader for the United States-based Carter Center during the November polls in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He lost to Zambia’s current President Michael Sata of the Patriotic Front in the September polls.
Meanwhile, Lesotho held early voting on Sunday, one week before the mostly hotly contested general elections since the 1998 polls that degenerated into looting and sparked a South African intervention.
The election comes just three months after Prime Minister Mosisili broke away from the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD), the party that he led in power since 1998.
He left after a pitched leadership battle with former communications minister Mothejoa Metsing, who now heads the LCD.
Mosisili formed his own Democratic Congress and stayed in power by convincing a majority of parliamentarians to follow him.