De­fence min­is­ter ex­plains army ma­neu­vers

Lesotho Times - - Front Page - Billy Ntaote

DE­FENCE and Na­tional Se­cu­rity Min­is­ter, Tšeliso Mokhosi, yes­ter­day told par­lia­ment gov­ern­ment had un­cov­ered a plot to rebel against author­ity by some Le­sotho De­fence Force (LDF) mem­bers.

Mr Mokhosi was re­spond­ing to de­mands by op­po­si­tion Mem­bers of Par­lia­ment (MPS), who wanted to find out why LDF mem­bers were kid­nap­ping and tor­tur­ing their col­leagues. The MPS, who first raised the is­sues in par­lia­ment on Tues­day last week, also wanted to find out why for­mer Prime Min­is­ter Thomas Tha­bane and Ba­sotho Na­tional Party leader Th­e­sele ‘ Maserib­ane, fled the coun­try and also why gov­ern­ment was si­lent about it.

On Tues­day this week, the MPS walked out on par­lia­ment in protest over gov­ern­ment’s fail­ure to ad­dress the is­sues. How­ever, in a state­ment re­leased yes­ter­day, Mr Mokhosi said: “Ba­sotho Na­tional Party Deputy leader, MP Joang Mo­lapo, re­quested that the au­gust house should dis­cuss the coun­try’s se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tion un­der Stand­ing Or­der No 29.

“I’m re­spond­ing to con­cerns in re­la­tion to an on­go­ing op­er­a­tion in the Le­sotho De­fence Force. On Wed­nes­day, May 13, 2015, the Deputy Com­man­der of the Army re­ported to me, as the Min­is­ter of De­fence and Na­tional Se­cu­rity that the army had un­cov­ered a mutiny plot by a clique of sol­diers.

Ac­cord­ing to mil­i­tary laws the world over, when such a plot is un­cov­ered, sol­diers im­pli­cated in the plot are court-mar­tialled. In the same to­ken, here in Le­sotho, sol­diers sus­pected to be in such a plot were ar­rested by the army ac­cord- ing to the LDF Act 1996 No. 4 of 1996 Sec­tion 86.”

The min­is­ter added the sol­diers would be given a chance to de­fend them­selves against the ac­cu­sa­tions they are fac­ing.

“I must ex­plain to this hon­ourable house that when acts of this na­ture have been com­mit­ted, the ac­cused are not given or af­forded any bail. This means the sus­pected sol­diers will re­main in cus­tody un­til they ap­pear be­fore a court mar­tial. This is in line with the LDF Dis­ci­pline Reg­u­la­tions of 1998 sec­tion 11 subsec­tion 2 and 3.

“Mean­while, I would like to in­form this hon­ourable house and the gen­eral public that on 19 and 20 May 2015, fam­i­lies of some of the sus­pected sol­diers ap­pealed to the High Court seek­ing an or­der that their rel­a­tives be brought to the court. They wanted to prove that they are still alive and that was done in line with the court or­ders and to show that th­ese sol­diers are still alive,” Mr Mokhosi said.

The min­is­ter also ex­plained what gov­ern­ment was do­ing with re­gards to the con­duct of some LDF mem­bers who al­legedly threat­ened court of­fi­cials and lawyers at the High Court last week.

“The Chief Jus­tice called the Deputy Com­man­der of the LDF to alert him that the courts were dis­ap­pointed by the con­duct of the LDF mem­bers and the LDF Deputy Com­man­der ac­cepted the com­plaint and guar­an­teed that such con­duct would not hap­pen again,” he said.

The min­is­ter con­tin­ued: “You will re­mem­ber that Hon Mem­ber for Butha-buthe, Mot­lohi Maliehe, told the house that one of the sol­diers un­der army detention had died. That is not true. All the ar­rested sol­diers are still alive and in good health.

“Madam Speaker, with this short state­ment, I ap­peal to mem­bers of this house to de­sist from bring­ing the army and other se­cu­rity agen­cies into po­lit­i­cal party mat­ters. Specif­i­cally, I ap­peal to the Hon­ourable Mem­ber for Butha-buthe and other mem­bers to de­sist from fu­elling an al­ready tense sit­u­a­tion by say­ing is­sues they would not have thor­oughly in­ves­ti­gated.

“I guar­an­tee you that this in­ves­ti­ga­tion of the army will only af­fect the army and no one else. There is no way that it will af­fect the gen­eral public. How­ever, where it would be found out that cer­tain mem­bers of the gen­eral public who are not mem­bers of the LDF are in­volved, other se­cu­rity agen­cies would work on those is­sues in line with the laws of Le­sotho.”

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