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Lesotho voters headed to the polls six months after coup bid

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A snap election got under way in Lesotho early Saturday, six months after an attempted coup plunged the small southern African nation into a political crisis.

Voting began at 0500 GMT at more than 2,000 polling stations across the landlocked mountain kingdom, which is completely surrounded by South Africa.

Delays occurred at some polling stations being inspected by police explosives units and sniffer dogs.

The country has been politically deadlocked since Prime Minister Thomas Thabane suspended parliament in June last year to avoid a motion that would have seen him ousted after his fragile coalition government, in power since 2012, fell apart.

On August 30, soldiers — reputedly loyal to the opposition — attacked police headquarters, looting weapons and killing one officer.

Thabane described the violence as a coup attempt and fled to neighbouring South Africa, though the military denied this.

About 1.2 million people are registered to vote in the poll, which was negotiated by mediators from the regional bloc Southern African Development Community (SADC).


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