Amer­ica slams Kamoli re­turn

Lesotho Times - - Front Page - Billy Ntaote

Amer­ica’s Am­bas­sador to Le­sotho, matthew Har­ring­ton, says his gov­ern­ment is con­cerned that no one has been held accountable for the 30 Au­gust 2014 po­lit­i­cal un­rest and vi­o­lence be­tween the Le­sotho De­fence Force (LDF) and Le­sotho mounted Po­lice ser­vice (Lmps).

A se­nior LMPS of­fi­cer, Sub-in­spec­tor mokhe­seng ramahloko, was shot dead when LDF mem­bers stormed Po­lice Head­quar­ters on the day in ques­tion in what the army said was a spe­cial op­er­a­tion. The LDF also at­tacked maseru cen­tral Po­lice sta­tion and mabote Po­lice sta­tion on the same morn­ing, with then Prime min­is­ter, Thomas Tha­bane, call­ing the as­saults an at­tempted coup. Dr Tha­bane ac­cused Lieu­tenant Gen­eral Tlali Kamoli, whom he had fired the pre­vi­ous day as LDF com­man­der, of al­legedly or­ches­trat­ing the botched putsch.

speak­ing dur­ing a round­table dis­cus­sion with jour­nal­ists in maseru yes­ter­day, Am­bas­sador Har­ring- ton not only ex­pressed con­cern that no one had been ar­rested in con­nec­tion with the si­mul­ta­ne­ous at­tacks on the three key po­lice sta­tions, but also that the Le­sotho gov­ern­ment had de­cided to re­in­state Lt Gen Kamoli.

Lt Gen Kamoli was re­in­stated on Fri­day last week and the Amer­i­can gov­ern­ment says this was “a missed op­por­tu­nity to set an ex­am­ple and not re­in­state one of the most po­lar­is­ing fig­ures from that dif­fi­cult pe­riod, as com­man­der of the Le­sotho De­fence Force”.

Am­bas­sador Har­ring­ton con­tin­ued: “We have con­cerns on se­cu­rity de­vel­op­ments in the coun­try; th­ese are is­sues that should be ac­counted for as they would be con­sid­ered by De­cem­ber when the mil­len­nium chal­lenge cor­po­ra­tion Board re­assesses the el­i­gi­bil­ity of Le­sotho for a sec­ond com­pact as this is eval­u­ated an­nu­ally.

“There should be ac­count­abil­ity re­gard­ing the 30 Au­gust 2014 in­ci­dents as cer­tain facts are not in dis­pute. Lt Gen Kamoli was dis­missed and there was a raid on po­lice sta­tions. Dur­ing the raid, a po­lice of­fi­cer died and there has not been any ar­rest.

“Lt Gen Kamoli is re­in­stated and there is no pun­ish­ment for the 30 Au­gust in­ci­dents. Th­ese are in­ci­dents that took place while he was still in charge of the LDF. This all sends a mes­sage that the coun­try is go­ing back­wards and not for­ward.”

The Am­bas­sador also noted other “re­cent trou­bling de­vel­op­ments” in Le­sotho, among them al­leged kid­nap­pings and abuse within the LDF, the mur­der of prom­i­nent All Ba­sotho con­ven­tion sup­porter and busi­ness­man Thabiso Tšosane, and fail­ure to pro­vide se­cu­rity for for­mer Prime min­is­ter Thomas Tha­bane. Dr Tha­bane fled the coun­try last week and has sought refuge in south Africa, say­ing he fears for his life back home.

Am­bas­sador Har­ring­ton fur­ther said the em­bassy had learnt that the ab­ducted sol­diers were be­ing brought to the High court heav­ily guarded by sol­diers wear­ing bal­a­clava hats cov­er­ing the LDF mem­bers’ faces. The Am­bas­sador also ex­pressed con­cern at the in­tim­i­da­tion of lawyers by the sol­diers at the High court, as they bring their ar­rested col­leagues.

“it seems like the LDF is do­ing as it pleases. We would like to see gov­ern­ment’s com­mit­ment to the de­politi­ci­sa­tion of its se­cu­rity agen­cies. The fact that the for­mer Prime min­is­ter has not been pro­vided with se­cu­rity in line with the laws of Le­sotho is also a wor­ry­ing mat­ter that needs to be ad­dressed by the gov­ern­ment.”

He also stressed the need for gov­ern­ment, ei­ther through the min­is­ter of De­fence and Na­tional se­cu­rity or the Prime min­is­ter, to ad­dress the gen­eral public about what was go­ing on in the coun­try

“Ba­sotho need to hear what is go­ing on from their lead­er­ship. The gov­ern­ment of Le­sotho should also take a hard look at past in­ci­dents and the fam­ily of the slain po­lice of­fi­cer should get the jus­tice it de­serves. it should be known who or­dered the LDF to raid those po­lice sta­tions.

“The gov­ern­ment, i be­lieve, should look at its own coali­tion Agree­ment for guid­ance on the se­cu­rity sec­tor re­forms that it pledged to un­der­take. On the other hand, we are pre­pared to as­sist the gov­ern­ment of Le­sotho in th­ese much-needed re­forms,” said Am­bas­sador Har­ring­ton.

How­ever, the Am­bas­sador em­pha­sised that his ref­er­ence on Lt Gen Kamoli should not be mis­taken as tak­ing sides in lo­cal is­sues.

“Any sovereign state has a right to ap­point peo­ple into of­fice but here, the gov­ern­ment of Le­sotho, missed an op­por­tu­nity to set an ex­am­ple,” he said.

Am­bas­sador Har­ring­ton also em­pha­sised the need for Le­sotho to “speed­ily” un­der­take in­sti­tu­tional and con­sti­tu­tional re­forms and en­sure the coun­try “does not fall back into an abyss of po­lit­i­cal and se­cu­rity in­sta­bil­ity”.

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