Op­po­si­tion vows to con­tinue parly boy­cott

Lesotho Times - - News - Billy Ntaote

Op­po­si­tion Mem­bers of Par­lia­ment (MPS) say they will not be in the leg­is­la­ture when it re­con­venes later this month un­less their lead­ers are back from ex­ile and army com­man­der Lieu­tenant-gen­eral Tlali Kamoli is no longer in of­fice.

Na­tional As­sem­bly Speaker, Ms Ntl­hoi Mot­samai, has an­nounced par­lia­ment re­opens on 30 Oc­to­ber af­ter it ad­journed sine die on 1 July this year.

How­ever, the op­po­si­tion’s 55 MPS had started boy­cotting the au­gust house on 23 June when it ad­journed, protest­ing al­leged lack of law and or­der which had re­sulted in their three lead­ers — former prime min­is­ter and All Ba­sotho Con­ven­tion (ABC) leader Thomas Tha­bane, Ba­sotho Na­tional Party (BNP) leader Th­e­sele ‘Maserib­ane, and Re­formed Congress of Le­sotho leader Keketso Ran­tšo — seek­ing refuge in South Africa the pre­vi­ous month.

The three lead­ers, and sev­eral mem­bers of their par­ties and Le- sotho Defence Force (LDF), fled to South Africa claim­ing the mil­i­tary was out to kill or ar­rest them to set­tle old scores.

Ac­cord­ing to BNP Deputy Leader Joang Mo­lapo, the op­po­si­tion’s stance re­gard­ing par­lia­ment re­mains the same — that their MPS would boy­cott it un­til sta­bil­ity re­turns to Le­sotho.

In ad­di­tion to the safe re­turn of their lead­ers and all the other ex­iles, the MPS would want LDF mem­bers who killed former army com­man­der, Maa­parankoe Ma­hao, brought to book. Lt-gen Ma­hao was fa­tally shot on 25 June this year by fel­low LDF mem­bers who had come to ar­rest him on sus­pi­cion he had planned to lead a mutiny and re­move the mil­i­tary com­mand. LtGen Ma­hao’s al­leged co-con­spir­a­tors are be­ing tried by a Court Mar­tial and are de­tained at the Maseru Max­i­mum Se­cu­rity Pri­son.

The South­ern African De­vel­op­ment Com­mu­nity has since es­tab­lished a Com­mis­sion of In­quiry to in­ves­ti­gate the cir­cum­stances sur­round­ing Lt-gen Ma­hao’s death and the 10-mem­ber probe team is ex­pected to wind up its busi­ness at the end of next month.

How­ever, Chief Mo­lapo told the Le­sotho Times the op­po­si­tion would not have any­thing to do with par­lia­ment un­til their de­mands are met.

“We have re­ceived the let­ters in­form­ing us about the sit­ting of the par­lia­ment, but our po­si­tion as the op­po­si­tion, re­mains the same.

“Un­til our lead­ers re­turn from ex­ile and Kamoli steps down as LDF com­man­der, we are not go­ing back to par­lia­ment.

“As mat­ters stand, we have no rea­son to go to par­lia­ment. The in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity has sup­ported our de­ci­sion to put pres­sure on gov­ern­ment to be ac­count­able.

“How­ever, Ba­sotho should know we will soon re­turn to par­lia­ment be­cause it is clear that Kamoli is on his way out.

“What the op­po­si­tion will not do is go back to par­lia­ment to give le­git­i­macy to an un­ac­count­able gov­ern­ment”.

ABC Sec­re­tary Gen­eral, Samo- nyane Nt­sekele also said the op­posip­po­si­tion still had is­sues that needed too be ad­dressed be­fore de­cid­ing ding on par­liar­lia­ment.

“We are re still con­ncernedd about a num­ber of is­sues that hat we men­tioned ioned in June when we be­gan boy­cottingg par­lia­ment.a lia e t We will have to weigh the pros and cons and see what would be the best de­ci­sion to make now,” Mr Nt­sekele said.

Mean­while, should op­po­si­tion MPS go ahead with their boy­cott, the House would only have 65 leg­is­la­tors from the rul­ing seven-party coali­tion when it re­con­venes.

Ac­cord­ing to Stand­ing Or­ders No 3 of the Na­tional As­sem­bly of Le- sotho, “the quo­rum of the House and of a Com­mit­tee of the Whole House shall con­sist of 30 mem­bers be­sides the per­son pre­sid­ing”.

This means the House could still sit with­out the op­po­si­tion MPS al­though it would not be able to fully func­tion be­cause of the ab­sence of the leg­is­la­tors who con­sti­tute dif­fer­ent com­mit­tees.

BNP deputy leader Joang Mo­lapo.

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