The Asian Age

Le­sotho PM seeks re­gional aid for peace

Zuma to meet Premier; mil­i­tary de­nies takeover but ap­pears in con­trol

- MARAFAELE MOHLOBOLI

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.

 ??  ?? Thomas Tha­bane
Thomas Tha­bane

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