Defence minister explains army maneuvers
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.”