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Ruling party in African mountain kingdom of Lesotho leads in early returns from weekend vote

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JOHANNESBURG — The party of Lesotho's prime minister on Sunday led in initial results from an election in the mountain kingdom, which held an early vote in an attempt to overcome tension among political factions.

Lesotho's election commission said Prime Minister Thomas Thabane's All Basotho Convention party was ahead with wins in 35 out of 80 voting districts. Some supporters of his party, which performed well in the area of the capital, Maseru, took to the streets to celebrate the early results.

The Democratic Congress of Pakalitha Mosisili, a former prime minister, was second with 10 district victories in Saturday's election. The Lesotho Congress for Democracy, a party led by Mothetjoa Metsing, the prime minister's deputy, had won two.

PHOTO: A woman carries grain to feed for her animals in a field near Maseru, Lesotho, Sunday March 1, 2015, as the country awaits the results of elections held Saturday. The southern African nation held an early election aimed at overcoming tension among political factions that has led to violence among security forces since last year. (AP Photo)
A woman carries grain to feed for her animals in a field near Maseru, Lesotho, Sunday March 1, 2015, as the country awaits the results of elections held Saturday. The southern African nation held an early election aimed at overcoming tension among political factions that has led to violence among security forces since last year. (AP Photo)

More results were expected on Monday morning.

Last year, Thabane suspended parliament after his coalition government splintered. He fled to South Africa, alleging he was the target of a coup attempt, and returned under the protection of South African forces.

Lesotho has a mixed election system, using voting districts as well as results in the nationwide popular vote to determine who gets the 120 seats in parliament. The country has 1.2 million registered voters.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon congratulated Lesotho on "the peaceful conduct" of the elections, and said "the successful completion of this process will be an important step in Lesotho's return to political normalcy," according to a statement released by his spokesman.

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PHOTO: Boys ride on donkeys near Maseru, Lesotho, Sunday March 1 2015, as the country awaits the results of elections held Saturday. The southern African nation held an early election aimed at overcoming tension among political factions that has led to violence among security forces since last year. (AP Photo)
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