Lesotho's main opposition party has formed a coalition government with other opposing parties after an election failed to provide an outright winner, it said on Wednesday.
The poll was brought forward by nearly two years in a bid to restore stability after an attempted coup by the army last Augus. The tight contest saw the opposition Democratic Congress (DC) party narrowly beat the ruling All Basotho Congress (ABC) party, led by incumbent prime minister Thomas Thabane.
After the vote, the DC said it had formed a coalition with the other smaller parties in the landlocked mountainous kingdom.
"The people have decided who they want to be led by. This new government is the will of the people," DC leader Pakalitha Mosisili told a media briefing.
Mosisili said he would take over as prime minister while Mothetjoa Metsing, the incumbent deputy prime minister, would retain his position. Metsing is a member of the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) party.
In addition to the DC and LCD, the coalition government includes five other smaller parties and provides the group with the majority seats required to govern.
Thabane's communications team was not available for comment.
Lesotho's parliament has 120 seats of which 80 are decided by constituents votes and 40 are allocated through proportional representation.
DC secured 47 parliamentary seats and ABC had 46 seats, while LCD came in third with 12 seats, the electoral commission said at a media conference.
Thabane briefly fled to South Africa in August when soldiers occupied police headquarters and encircled his palace. Thabane accused his deputy Metsing of working with the army to oust him, an allegation Metsing and the military dismissed.
The attempted coup triggered concerns of political violence, leading to an intervention headed by South Africa's deputy president.
Apart from textile exports and a slice of regional customs receipts, the state of 2 million people's other big earner is water piped to South Africa, making it of strategic importance to Pretoria.
(Writing by Olivia Kumwenda-Mtambo; Editing by James Macharia and Raissa Kasolowsky)