Officially: Mmuso wa Lesotho; Kingdom of Lesotho.
Seat of government: Maseru.
Structure: Government is headed by the prime minister, chosen by the National Assembly, elected in geographical constituences, modified by party-list proportional representation. The state is officially a monarchy, with a hereditary aristocracy; the hereditary chiefs along with nominees of the king form a second house of parliament, the Senate.
Governing parties: Democratic Congress; Lesotho Congress for Democracy; Basutoland Congress Party; Lesotho Peoples Congress.
Head of government: Pakalitha Mosisili, DC, prime minister (since 2015).
Other parliamentary parties: All Basotho Convention; Basotho National Party; Popular Front for Democracy; Reformed Congress of Lesotho; National Independent Party; Marematlou Freedom Party.
Recent history: The BNP won a narrow victory over the BCP in 1965, shortly before independence (1966); Leabua Jonathan (1965-86) became prime minister. A new election was held in 1970; the BNP lost to the BCP, but kept power anyway, declaring a state of emergency. It scheduled an election for 1985, but the opposition boycotted. Jonathan was deposed by the military; army commander Justin Lekhanya (1986-91) became head of government, and in 1990 removed the king, but was himself the victim of a coup, with Elias Phisoana Ramaema (1991-3) leading a new military government. 1993 saw the first democratic election since independence; the BCP won 75% of the vote and all seats in the Assembly, and Ntsu Mokhehle (1993-4, 1994-8) became prime minister. In the 1998 election, the LCD (a new party formed by Mokhehle) claimed all seats but one, while officially taking 61% of the vote, and Mosisili (1998-12, 2015-) became prime minister; the credibility of the election was questioned, leading to opposition protests and military intervention by South Africa and Botswana. A new electoral system with proportional representation was instituted; the LCD won the first two elections (2002, 2007). Mosisili formed the Ntsu Democratic Congress (now the DC) in 2011 after the LCD split over his continued tenure. The NDC finished first in the 2012 election, but most of the opposition the ABC, LCD, BNP, PFP, and MFP formed a coalition, and Tom Thabane (2012-5) of the ABC became prime minister. Thabane suspended the Assembly in 2014 to avoid a vote of confidence, alleging a planned coup, and fled temporarily to South Africa, which returned him to power. An early election was held in 2015; the DC finished first and formed a governing coalition, allowing Mosisili to return. The government lost a confidence vote in 2017, and parliament was dissolved.
FH: 2-3, free. Econ: 6.29 (71), flawed democracy.
Updated: 2017 March 23.