Na­tions ‘re­ject’ Kamoli

Lesotho Times - - Front Page - Billy Ntaote

LIEU­TENANT Gen­eral Tlali Kamoli’s use of strong-arm tac­tics to re­main in charge of the Le­sotho De­fence Force (LDF) seem to be back­fir­ing after it was claimed this week that all Com­mon­wealth and South­ern African De­vel­op­ment Com­mu­nity (SADC) na­tions, ex­cept Botswana, had re­fused to ac­com­mo­date him for his leave of ab­sence un­der the Cyril Ramaphosa-bro­kered Maseru Se­cu­rity Ac­cord (MSA).

This is re­port­edly be­cause none of the na­tions wanted to be seen as pla­cat­ing or glo­ri­fy­ing a rene­gade sol­dier who dis­obeys demo­crat­i­cally-elected civil­ian lead­ers.

The sen­sa­tional claims against Lt Gen­eral Kamoli were made by Home Af­fairs Min­is­ter Joang Mo­lapo at a break­fast meet­ing he con­vened for the me­dia dur­ing his Ba­sotho Na­tional Party (BNP)’S lead­er­ship con­fer­ence at the week­end.

The MSA en­joined Lt Gen­eral Kamoli, Po­lice Com­mis­sioner Khothatso Tšooana, and newly-ap­pointed LDF com­man­der Maa­parankoe Ma­hao to take leave of ab­sence in a for­eign coun­try and be re­placed by their deputies to heal the rifts be­tween the army and po­lice which have fos­tered the cur­rent dis­cord in the coun­try.

But while most coun­tries ap­proached were eas­ily will­ing to ac­com­mo­date Com­mis­sioner Tšooana and Lt Gen Ma­hao, Lt Gen Kamoli had no tak­ers.

Ac­cord­ing to Mr Mo­lapo, only Botswana, ruled by for­mer Botswana De­fence Force Com­man­der Seretse Ian Khama, came to Lt Gen Kamoli’s res­cue and ac­cepted him.

All other Com­mon­wealth and SADC mem­ber coun­tries ap­proached had re­jected Lt Gen Kamoli over fears it would set a bad prece­dent of glo­ri­fy­ing army com­man­ders who use force to keep their po­si­tions and defy civil­ian rulers, claimed Chief Mo­lapo.

He said only Botswana de­cided to take him in, with Pres­i­dent Khama, him­self a mil­i­tary man, agree­ing to ac­cept Lt Gen Kamoli so he could teach the Mosotho a few lessons about democ­racy.

The MSA specif­i­cally said Lt Gen Kamoli, Lt Gen Ma­hao and Com­mis­sioner Tšooana should go to any SADC or Com­mon­wealth coun­try.

Dur­ing the leave of ab­sence, which comes into ef­fect on 15 Novem­ber 2014, the three are not sup­posed to “ex­er­cise any au­thor­ity or un­due in­flu­ence over the LDF or LMPS”, to be put un­der the lead­er­ship of their deputies.

“Peo­ple need to un­der­stand this thing in its en­tirety,” added Chief Mo­lapo. Maa­parankoe agreed to go on a leave of ab­sence and when SADC coun­tries were asked who would be will­ing to host him, nu­mer­ous SADC coun­tries rep­re­sen­ta­tives were rais­ing their hands de­light­edly say­ing we will take him to as­sist Le­sotho out of its cur­rent se­cu­rity cri­sis.”

He said when it came to Com­mis­sioner Tšooana, about 40 coun­tries showed an in­ter­est in ac­com­mo­dat­ing him dur­ing his leave of ab­sence from the LMPS. But when it came to Lt Gen Kamoli, only one coun­try agreed

to take him. Only one coun­try that is ruled by a for­mer sol­dier agreed to take him,” he said.

“Pres­i­dent Khama said bring him here so I could teach him a les­son. He told us he has been con­verted to democ­racy so he would eas­ily teach Lt Gen Kamoli how sol­diers who refuse to lis­ten to or­ders are treated.”

He said the con­cern of most coun­tries was that in­stead of be­ing charged with trea­son, Lt Gen Kamoli seems to have set a bad prece­dent that one can ma­noeu­vre their way out of be­ing held ac­count­able by us­ing brute force and caus­ing po­lit­i­cal chaos.

“They (the coun­tries) said this per­son has set a wrong prece­dent. So they said his pres­ence in their coun­tries would teach their own gen­er­als who may want to over­throw gov­ern­ments that they can take such chances as Kamoli did,” Chief Mo­lapo said.

Lt Gen Kamoli plunged Le­sotho into cri­sis after he or­dered troops to storm po­lice sta­tions and seize weapons in what many de­scribed as an at­tempted coup.

His ac­tions forced Prime Min­is­ter Tha­bane to flee only to re­turn un­der heavy South African po­lice guard.

South African Deputy Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa has since bro­kered an ac­cord which will see the coun­try go for elec­tions in Fe­bru­ary 2015.

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