Lesotho: Constitution

Updated July 2005

CONSTITUTION Constitution of Lesotho, adopted April 2, 1993. Amended 1996, 1997, 1998, 2001, 2004.
FORM OF STATE Constitutional hereditary monarchy[1].
HEAD OF STATE The King is Head of State, but is generally obliged to act on the advice of the Cabinet or the Council of State. The King and his successors are designated by the College of Chiefs in accordance with customary law[2].
EXECUTIVE Executive authority is vested in the King but is exercised through the Government. The Government is headed by the Prime Minister who is appointed by the King on the advice of the Council of State and must enjoy the support of the majority of the National Assembly. The ministers are appointed from members of Parliament by the King acting on the advice of the Prime Minister[3]. The Cabinet consists of the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister and ministers[4]. The Council of State, which assists the King in performing his functions consists primarily of key members of State structures[5].
LEGISLATURE The legislature consists of the King, the National Assembly and the Senate. The National Assembly is elected by universal adult suffrage through a Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) system; 80 members are elected in first-past-the-post constituency elections, 40 by proportional representation. Proportion representation seats are allocated so as to compensate parties for the discrepancy between percentage votes obtained and percentage constituency seats won. The National Assembly is elected at intervals of no more than five years[6]. The Senate is comprised of the 22 Principle Chiefs and 11 members nominated by the King on the advice of the Council of State[7].
JUDICIARY The judicial system is comprised of a Court of Appeal, a High Court and subordinate courts and tribunals[8]. The Chief Justice of the High Court and the President of the Court of Appeal are appointed on the advice of the Prime Minister while the judges of both courts are appointed on the advice of the Judicial Service Commission[9]. Judges are removable for incompetence or misconduct on the advice of a tribunal. The High Court and the Court of Appeal have the power to rule on constitutional issues[10].
AMENDMENT In general amendments require a majority in the National Assembly. Entrenched clauses require either a two-thirds majority or endorsement of the electorate in a national referendum[11].

Table notes

[1] Constitution of Lesotho 1993, Articles 1, 2.
[2] Constitution of Lesotho 1993, Articles 44, 45, 91.
[3] Constitution of Lesotho 1993, Articles 86, 87(1)-(4).
[4] Constitution of Lesotho 1993, Article 88(1), cf 87(3).
[5] Constitution of Lesotho 1993, Article 95(1), (2). The members include the Prime Minister, The Speaker of the National Assembly, two judges appointed on the advice of the Chief justice, the Attorney-General, the Commander of the Armed Forces, a Principle Chief nominated by the College of Chiefs, the leaders of the two largest opposition parties, three experts appointed on the advice of the Prime Minister and a lawyer appointed by the Law Society (Article 95(2)).
[6] Constitution of Lesotho 1993, Article 54, 67, 83(2).
[7] Constitution of Lesotho 1993, Article 55.
[8] Constitution of Lesotho 1993, Article 118.
[9] Constitution of Lesotho 1993, Article 120(1), (2), 124(1), (2).
[10] Constitution of Lesotho 1993, Articles 121(3)-(7), 125(3)-(7), 128.
[11] Constitution of Lesotho 1993, Article 85. These entrenched clauses cover matters such as the independence and sovereignty of the kingdom, the supremacy of the Constitution, the bill of rights, the office of the King, the Council of State, the Principle Chiefs, state land, independence of the judiciary, the Judicial Service Commission, citizenship, the National Assembly, the IEC, the Senate, the Ombudsman and the Public Service Commission (Article 85(3)).

References

CONSTITUTION OF LESOTHO 1993, does not contain any amendments, [www] http://aceproject.org/regions-en/eisa/LS/Constitution%20of%20Lesotho%201993.pdf [PDF document, opens new window] (accessed 8 Mar 2010).

FIRST AMENDMENT TO THE CONSTITUTION ACT 1996, [www] http://aceproject.org/ ero-en/regions/africa/LS/First%20Amendment%20to%20the%20Constitution%20Act%201996.pdf [PDF document, opens new window] (accessed 8 Mar 2010).

SECOND AMENDMENT TO THE CONSTITUTION ACT 1997, [www] http://aceproject.org/ regions-en/eisa/LS/Second%20Amendment%20to%20the%20Constitution%20Act%201997.pdf [PDF document, opens new window] (accessed 8 Mar 2010).

THIRD AMENDMENT TO THE CONSTITUTION ACT 1998, [www] http://aceproject.org/ero- en/regions/africa/LS/Third%20Amendment%20to%20the%20Constitution%20Act%201997.pdf [PDF document, opens new window] (accessed 8 Mar 2010).

FOURTH AMENDMENT TO THE CONSTITUTION ACT 2001.

FIFTH AMENDMENT TO THE CONSTITUTION ACT 2004.