‘Le­sotho needs grand coali­tion’

Lesotho Times - - Front Page - Billy Ntaote

FOR­MER Kenyan Prime Min­is­ter Raila Odinga has called on Le­sotho to form an allinclu­sive gov­ern­ment con­sist­ing of the ma­jor par­ties to ex­pe­dite the im­ple­men­ta­tion of con­sti­tu­tional and legal re­forms needed to at­tain po­lit­i­cal and se­cu­rity sta­bil­ity.

Mr Odinga, who led the African Union’s (AU) ob­server mission to the 28 Fe­bru­ary elec­tions, said their find­ings re­vealed that Le­sotho had struc­tural prob­lems of gov­er­nance which needed to be re­formed.

The AU mission com­prised of 40 ob­servers drawn from the con­ti­nent’s elec­toral man­age­ment bod­ies, civil so­ci­ety or­gan­i­sa­tions and the Pan-african Par­lia­ment, among oth­ers.

Its man­date en­tailed ob­serv­ing, col­lect­ing and analysing the gen­eral elec­tions data to en­sure it is in line with rel­e­vant AU in­stru­ments such as the African Char­ter on Democ­racy, Elec­tions and Gov­er­nance, the OAU/AU Dec­la­ra­tion on the Prin­ci­ples Gov­ern­ing Demo­cratic Elec­tions in Africa and the African Union Guide­lines for Elec­tion Ob­ser­va­tion and Mon­i­tor­ing Mis­sions.

“We recog­nised that Le­sotho’s prob­lem is sys­temic,” said Mr Odinga while de­liv­er­ing the AU ob­server mission’s pre­lim­i­nary find­ings on the polls on Mon­day.

“So the prob­lem is in the struc­ture of the gov­ern­ment which has par­ti­san po­lit­i­cal par­ties. In Kenya we also had prob­lems of this na­ture that re­sulted in a con­flict in which a lot of lives were lost.”

He said while the con­ti­nen­tal bloc’s rec­om­men­da­tions were not pre­scrip­tive, the in­com­ing ad­min­is­tra­tion could take a cue from Kenya’s ex­pe­ri­ences.

“There is an ur­gent need for con­sti­tu­tional re­forms, po­lit­i­cal re­forms, se­cu­rity re­forms and even eco­nomic re­forms,” Mr Odinga noted.

“Such re­forms should be in­clu­sive of all po­lit­i­cal par­ties, such as the grand coali­tion gov­ern­ment we had in Kenya that al­lowed us to re­view our con­sti­tu­tion.”

He added that only through an all-in­clu­sive po­lit­i­cal process would stake­hold­ers sup­port the re­form process.

Mr Odinga said as part of the AU ob­server mission’s man­date to make an in­de­pen­dent, ob­jec­tive and im­par­tial as­sess­ment of the elec­tions, they also held meet­ings with se­cu­rity agen­cies, “since the se­cu­rity sec­tor plays a huge role in the re­form process”.

“The mil­i­tary showed us the Act of par­lia­ment that em­pow­ers the army to in­ter­vene in the event of in­ter­nal prob­lems in Le­sotho,” he said.

“In the case of Le­sotho, the role of the mil­i­tary is dif­fer­ent from other coun­tries as there is only one neigh­bour in South Africa and so the army ends us get­ting in­volved in in­ter­nal is­sues when there are no ex­ter­nal chal­lenges over bound­aries.”

Mr also said the ob­server mission had also noted that the po­lice and army were “re­port­edly politi­cised” and caught up in the ten­sions be­tween the coali­tion gov­ern­ment part­ners.

They had also ob­served that the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the army and po­lice re­mained frayed de­spite the sign­ing of the Maseru Se­cu­rity Ac­cord and a Mem­o­ran­dum of Un­der­stand­ing to sup­port all ef­forts to help sta­bilise the se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tion.

“On the other hand, se­cu­rity forces al­lege in­ter­fer­ence by politi­cians in the dis­charge of their con­sti­tu­tional obligations,” he said.

He said the roles and func­tions of the army and po­lice need to be re­viewed so that they are clearly de­fined.

“We need to know where the buck stops. We can’t have a sit­u­a­tion whereby there is no clear com­man­der of the army,” said Mr Odinga.

“In Kenya, the pres­i­dent seeks Par­lia­men­tary ap­proval for the de­ploy­ment of the armed forces. How­ever, that is vague in Le­sotho.

“So there is need for Le­sotho to un­dergo such re­forms for the at­tain­ment of both po­lit­i­cal and se­cu­rity sta­bil­ity.”

The ob­server mission, he said, had also noted that the con­sti­tu­tion of Le­sotho does not pro­vide the mech­a­nisms for the op­er­a­tional­i­sa­tion of a coali­tion gov­ern­ment, “nor does it ef­fec­tively an­tic­i­pate the dy­nam­ics of coali­tion pol­i­tics”.

“The AU elec­tion ob­server mission en­cour­ages Par­lia­ment to un­der­take com­pre­hen­sive con­sti­tu­tional legal and in­sti­tu­tional re­forms ad­dress­ing, among other things, coali­tion gov­er­nance, floor cross­ing, public sec­tor re­forms and dis­pute res­o­lu­tion mech­a­nisms,” he added.

“Un­der­take ur­gent mea­sures, in­clud­ing leg­isla­tive mea­sures on se­cu­rity sec­tor re­form that en­sures the civil­ian con­trol of the mil­i­tary and the po­lice in line with the con­sti­tu­tion of Le­sotho.”

Mr Odinga called on stake­hold­ers in the body politic to in­cul­cate a cul­ture of con­sti­tu­tion­al­ism and up­hold the rule of law.

He said Le­sotho needs a vi­sion­ary and trans­for­ma­tive lead­er­ship with the na­tional in­ter­est up­per­most in their pri­or­i­ties above par­ti­san con­cerns.

“The AU elec­tion ob­server mission im­plores Le­sotho’s lead­ers to en­gage in dia­logue aimed at re­solv­ing the cur­rent chal­lenges as well as lay­ing a solid foun­da­tion for con­sen­sus build­ing and mu­tual trust,” Mr Odinga said, adding that politi­cians should de­sist from in­ter­fer­ing with and in­volv­ing se­cu­rity agen­cies in party po­lit­i­cal agen­das.

He said the in­com­ing gov­ern­ment should also pro­vide the ju­di­ciary with ad­e­quate hu­man and fi­nan­cial re­sources as well as se­cu­rity, “to en­able them to carry out their man­date with­out fear”.

On the is­sue of the me­dia, Mr Odinga called for a reg­u­la­tory frame­work that en­sures ad­her­ence to sub-re­gional, re­gional and in­ter­na­tional norms and best prac­tices.

He fur­ther said, in the in­terim, the ob­server mission had de­clared the elec­tions peace­ful, trans­par­ent and gen­er­ally re­flect­ing the will of the Ba­sotho elec­torate. Mr Odinga also urged po­lit­i­cal ac­tors and the elec­torate to main­tain the peace­ful con­duct which they had dis­played be­fore and dur­ing the elec­tions.

Head of au elec­tion Ob­server Mission Raila Odinga

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Lesotho

© PressReader. All rights reserved.