Updated May 2006
A new Electoral Code of Conduct ("Code") was adopted in 2001 to replace the less detailed Code of 1992 (National Assembly Election (No 1) (Amendment) Act 2001, 42; National Assembly Election Order 1992, Schedule 4).
The Code is binding on all candidates and all registered political parties and infringements make the guilty party liable to a formal warning, a fine of up to M10 000, suspension of media access for a specified period or restrictions on campaign activities such as prohibitions on meetings, on entry to certain geographic areas or on literature distribution (National Assembly Election (No 1) (Amendment) Act 2001, 112M (1), (2)(a)).
Particular infringements by parties carry heavier penalties (National Assembly Election (No 1) (Amendment) Act 2001, 112M (2),(b)):
Moreover individuals involved in acts of violence, intimidation or gross violations of the rights of any political party, candidate or voter may be disqualifies from standing as candidates (National Assembly Election (No 1) (Amendment) Act 2001, 112M (2),(c)).
Cases of infringement are prosecuted by the Director of Elections and fall under the jurisdiction of the High Court (National Assembly Election (No 1) (Amendment) Act 2001, 112N).
The Code lays down as its purpose, "to promote conditions that are conducive to free, fair and transparent elections" and to promote a climate of (section 1):
Parties and candidates are expected not only to adhere to the Code, but to actively publicise it while conducting campaigns, to promote voter education and to develop a code of ethics in line with the Code (section 2). This public commitment involves the affirmation of the rights of participants to (sections 4(a), 3):
Parties and candidates are expected to instruct all concerned, leadership, members and supporters to adhere to the Code (section 4(b)).
To quell violence, intimidation, defamation and vote-buying candidates and registered parties must undertake to (section 5):
Parties and candidates have a duty to ensure that they do not arrange public events to conflict with those of other parties, that they attend meetings to discuss enforcement and infringements of the Code and to abide by the decisions made iro the Code by the competent authorities (section 6).
Parties and candidates are enjoined to promote the rights of women by facilitating women's equal political participation, ensuring their access to public meetings, respecting their rights to communicate with parties and respecting their rights to freedom of political action and conscience without being subject to coercion (section 7).
Parties and candidates are expected to respect the media, to permit free access by the media to public political events and to ensure that journalists are not harassed, intimidated or subjected to hazard, threats or assault (section 8).
Parties and candidates are expected to cooperate with the IEC by:
Parties and candidates must pledge to accept the final outcome of the elections as certified by the IEC and to ensure that others do so (section 10).
NATIONAL ASSEMBLY ELECTION ORDER 1992, Military Council and Council of Ministers of Lesotho.
NATIONAL ASSEMBLY ELECTION (No 1) (AMENDMENT) ACT 2001, Lesotho Government Gazette Extraordinary, 46(105), 31 December.