The Asian Age
Lesotho PM seeks regional aid for peace
Zuma to meet Premier; military denies takeover but appears in control
Lesotho’s Prime Minister has asked southern African states to send peacekeepers into his mountain kingdom to restore order after an apparent coup over the weekend, his aide said on Monday.
Thomas Thabane fled Lesotho for South Africa early on Saturday, hours before the Army surrounded his residence and overran police stations in the capital Maseru, in what the Prime Minister called a coup by the military. Mr Lesotho’s Army denied seeking to oust Mr Thabane, saying it moved against the police suspected of planning to arm a political faction in the country encircled by South Africa. One policeman was shot dead and four others wounded.
The unrest stems from a power struggle between Mr Thabane, who is supported by the police, and deputy prime minister Mothetjoa Metsing, who has the loyalty of the Army, diplomats said.
Tension had risen since Mr Thabane, who has accused Mr Metsing of orchestrating the coup, suspended Parliament in June amid feuding in the two- year- old governing coalition. The Southern African Development Community defence and security troika, which includes foreign ministers from South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe, met Mr Thabane and Mr Metsing through the night to try to find a peaceful settlement to the crisis. Mr Thabane asked SADC, a cooperative group of 15 southern African states, for military support and was due to meet South African President Jacob Zuma for further mediation, said officials.
“On top of the table was a need for intervention based on the situation. We called on the SADC peace force to intervene,” said Mr Thabane’s aide Samonyane Ntsekele.
“The Prime Minister is meeting President Zuma to discuss recommendations that the troika would have made. We are not sure what is being recommended,” Mr Ntsekele added. Nelson Kgwete, a spokesman for South Africa’s Department for International Relations and Cooperation ( DIRCO), confirmed that Mr Zuma was due to meet Mr Thabane.