Op­po­si­tion par­ties re­ject Kamoli

. . . threaten mass ac­tion if re­in­stated as army com­man­der.

Lesotho Times - - Front Page - Billy Ntaote and Keiso Mohloboli

LE­SOTHO’S two big­gest po­lit­i­cal par­ties have warned gov­ern­ment against re­in­stat­ing Lieu­tenant Gen­eral Tlali Kamoli as Le­sotho De­fence Force (LDF) com­man­der, in­sist­ing such a move would be met with fierce re­sis­tance and ap­peals to the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity.

Both All Ba­sotho Con­ven­tion (ABC) sec­re­tary gen­eral, Sa­monyane Nt­sekele, and Ba­sotho Na­tional Party (BNP) leader, Th­e­sele ‘Maserib­ane, yes­ter­day said public state­ments by new De­fence and Na­tional Se­cu­rity Min­is­ter, Tšeliso Mokhosi, that Lt Gen Kamoli — who was fired on 29 Au­gust 2014 as LDF com­man­der for al­leged in­sub­or­di­na­tion — were grossly ir­re­spon­si­ble and meant to cause in­sta­bil­ity in Le­sotho. Ac­cord­ing to Mr Nt­sekele, the ABC would not “stand by and wa watch” gov­ern­ment undo all the hard workw done by the South­ern African Devel­op­ment Com­mu­nity (SADC) in restor­ing sta­bil­ity to the king­dom,king­dom with Lt Gen Kamoli’s re­fusal to a ac­cept his dis­missal by then Prime Min­is­ter Thomas Tha­bane, one of th the rea­sons the coun­try had found itse it­self on the verge of civil war. Mr Nt­sekele also warne warned Demo­cratic Congress (DC) lea leader and Prime Min­is­ter Pakalitha Mo­sisili against mak­ing a any de­ci­sions that c con­tra­dict com­mit­men com­mit­ments the coun­try’s po­lit­i­cal lead lead­ers made be­fore t the SADC Ob­serve Ob­server Mission in Le­sotho (SOMIL (SOMILES).

One of those de­ci­sio de­ci­sions, he added, was that Lt Gen Kamoli m must not re­turn to the LDF and that his re­place­ment, Lieu­tenant Gen­eral Maap Maa­parankoe Maha Ma­hao should take over the p post once he re­turned from spe­cial leave he was force forced to take in N Novem­ber last year to al­low peace­ful elec­tions on 2 28 Fe­bru­ary 2015.2

In ad­di­tion t to Lt Gen Maha Ma­hao, Le­sotho Mounted Po­lice Ser­vice Com­mis­sioner, Khothatso Tšooana, and Lt Gen Kamoli were also sent out of the coun­try as SADC felt their con­tin­ued pres­ence in the coun­try was not help­ing mend re­la­tions be­tween the po­lice and army.

Ac­cord­ing to Mr Nt­sekele, the un­cer­tainty that had come to haunt Le­sotho at the height of the in­fight­ing be­tween the ABC, Le­sotho Congress for Democ­racy and BNP gov­ern­ment, was slowly creep­ing back due to “reck­less state­ments by peo­ple like Mokhosi who should know bet­ter.”

“As the ABC, we still take the SADC Ob­server Mission to be still in Le­sotho de­spite wind­ing up its op­er­a­tions on 31 March. South African Deputy Pres­i­dent, Cyril Ramaphosa, who was the SADC fa­cil­i­ta­tor in re­solv­ing our dif­fer­ences, will soon be com­ing to Le­sotho to see the progress the coun­try is mak­ing as far as re­spect­ing all the agree­ments the po­lit­i­cal lead­ers signed, is con­cerned.

“That’s why I am say­ing what Mr Mokhosi has been say­ing about Lt Gen Kamoli’s re­in­state­ment to the LDF com­mand is noth­ing but wish­ful think­ing be­cause it’s not up to him or his party, the LCD (Le­sotho Congress for Democ­racy), to de­cide be­cause the is­sue has been set­tled at a much higher level.

“We would want to move on as a coun­try and must not be di­verted by a very short­sighted min­is­ter, who is busy telling the world some­thing that is com­pletely at odds with the truth.”

Mr Nt­sekele fur­ther ac­cused the LCD act­ing sec­re­tary gen­eral of “al­ways cre­at­ing prob­lems”.

“Mokhosi’s only fo­cus is caus­ing con­flict among Ba­sotho and noth­ing else. He doesn’t have the in­ter­ests of Ba­sotho at heart, but al­ways wants to see us fight­ing and never at peace. He was among the peo­ple who de­stroyed the LCD to be­come the shell that it is to­day, and now since he and his fel­low LCD mem­bers have noth­ing to lose any­more, they will soon be in­fil­trat­ing the DC and caus­ing prob­lems for Prime Min­is­ter Mo­sisili,” Mr Nt­sekele said.

“The prime min­is­ter should be care­ful be­cause very soon, he will be re­gret­ting form­ing a coali­tion gov­ern­ment with the LCD be­cause th­ese peo­ple are very good at bring­ing dishar­mony in any­thing they are in­volved in. They put them­selves ahead of na­tional in­ter­ests all the time.”

Warn­ing Mr Mokhosi against mak­ing “un­founded” ac­cu­sa­tions against Dr Tha­bane — that the ABC leader al­legedly brought dishar­mony be­tween the po­lice and army when he was pre­mier as well as de­fence, po­lice and na­tional se­cu­rity min­is­ter — Mr Nt­sekele said: “Mokhosi should know that our leader is not a play­ground upon which he can play his games.

“He should de­sist from at­tack­ing Dr Tha­bane as we will surely re­turn the fire. He should con­sider him­self warned.”

On his part, Chief ‘Maserib­ane said the BNP membership was “deeply dis­turbed” by Mr Mokhosi’s state­ments re­gard­ing the pro­posed re­in­state­ment of Lt Gen Kamoli as LDF com­man­der.

“It is a well-known fact that Kamoli is not a mem­ber of the LDF any­more as he was fired on 29 Au­gust 2014.

“As far as we are aware, he never chal­lenged his dis­missal be­fore any court of law and the only rea­son­able con­clu­sion one can draw from this is that he had ac­cepted his re­moval.

“He knew very well that due process had been fol­lowed when he was fired by the then prime min­is­ter,” said Chief ‘Maserib­ane.

Ac­cord­ing to Chief ‘Maserib­ane, his party’s ob­jec­tion to Lt Gen Kamoli’s re­in­state­ment was also based on his con­duct while he was army boss.

“Prior to his dis­missal, Kamoli re­fused to hand-over to the po­lice, sev­eral sol­diers who had been im­pli­cated in the killing of Le­sotho cit­i­zens, as well as sol­diers im­pli­cated in var­i­ous bomb­ings in Maseru. This man has no re­spect for the po­lice and civil­ian author­ity.

“Again on 30 Au­gust 2014, Kamoli led an army as­sault on the prime min­is­ter’s res­i­dence, as well as the home of Lt Gen Ma­hao and var­i­ous po­lice sta­tions in Maseru. A po­lice of­fi­cer was killed in the attack on one of the po­lice sta­tions. Th­ese are trea­son­able and il­le­gal acts, which show that Kamoli has no re­spect for democ­racy and the rule of law. He is not fit to lead the LDF and any public of­fice, for that mat­ter,” said Chief ‘ Maserib­ane.

‘”If Mo­sisili’s gov­ern­ment is re­ally se­ri­ous about re­forms in the army, which would con­trib­ute to peace and sta­bil­ity in this coun­try, it is es­sen­tial that the lead­er­ship of the LDF be in the hands of a per­son of in­tegrity and that per­son is the cur­rent com­man­der, Lt Gen Ma­hao.”

Chief ‘Maserib­ane fur­ther said in ad­di­tion to Lt Gen Ma­hao, there are “hun­dreds of sol­diers in the LDF and many cred­i­ble and ed­u­cated of­fi­cers” the gov­ern­ment could se­lect as army com­man­der.

“We call on the Le­sotho gov­ern­ment to se­lect a per­son who will com­mand the re­spect of the sol­diers and the public at large and make him or her the LDF com­man­der. This will be one of the steps needed to re­ha­bil­i­tate the army and re­pair its tainted rep­u­ta­tion.”

The BNP leader also said the party had been fur­ther “dis­ap­pointed” to learn from Mr Mokhosi that gov­ern­ment wanted to de­mote Lt Gen Ma­hao to his pre­vi­ous rank of Bri­gadier.

“For the record, Lt Gen Ma­hao was duly ap­pointed com­man­der of the LDF on the 29th of Au­gust 2014 in terms of the LDF Act.

“The BNP wishes to ad­vice the Prime Min­is­ter, Mr Mo­sisili, be­ing the author­ity re­spon­si­ble for ad­vis­ing the King on the ap­point­ment and re­moval of the army com­man­der, that it shall not only be ir­reg­u­lar but also il­le­gal to de­mote Lt Gen Ma­hao to the rank of Bri­gadier,” said Chief ‘Maserib­ane.

“Let us also take this op­por­tu­nity to warn the gov­ern­ment that any move to bring back Kamoli as LDF com­man­der is go­ing to be met with fierce re­sis­tance that would in­clude lob­by­ing in­ter­na­tional or­gan­i­sa­tions and coun­try­wide protests.”

Con­tacted for com­ment last night, Mr Mokhosi said he would re­spond to the ABC and BNP claims once he reached his home.

How­ever, when the Le­sotho Times called the min­is­ter 30 min­utes later, he was not an­swer­ing his phone.

But speak­ing on South African Broad­cast­ing Cor­po­ra­tion news on Sun­day, Mr Mokhosi said Lt Gen Kamoli would soon be re­in­stated as LDF com­man­der and Lt Gen Ma­hao revert to Bri­gadier.

Asked if he was aware of the min­is­ter’s state­ment, Lt Gen Ma­hao yes­ter­day told the Le­sotho Times: “The LDF Act of 1996 doesn’t pro­vide for the Min­is­ter of De­fence to pro­mote, de­mote or ap­point any army of­fi­cer but His Majesty the King, on the ad­vice of the Prime Min­is­ter.

“I didn’t watch the pro­gramme you are talk­ing about; I only heard that the min­is­ter re­ferred to me as Bri­gadier on the pro­gramme, but I have not re­ceived any of­fi­cial de­mo­tion from any­one.

“My Court Mar­tial (in which he was be­ing ac­cused of act­ing in a man­ner un­be­com­ing of an LDF of­fi­cer) was law­fully can­celled and gazetted last year; my pro­mo­tion was also gazetted.

“If the min­is­ter de­cides to ig­nore my pro­mo­tion, he can’t de­mote me just like that but send me on early re­tire­ment.

“But that would be sub­ject to what would be on of­fer in terms of the benefits.

“We call on the Le­sotho gov­ern­ment to se­lect a per­son who will com­mand the re­spect of the sol­diers and the public at large and make him or her the LDF com­man­der. This will be one of the steps needed to re­ha­bil­i­tate the army and re­pair its tainted rep­u­ta­tion

Lieu­tenant Gen­eral tlali Kamoli

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