MPS bid to pe­ti­tion parly flops

Lesotho Times - - News - Billy Ntaote

A BID by op­po­si­tion Mem­bers of Par­lia­ment (MPS) to have a list of their griev­ances read in the House failed yes­ter­day af­ter the Speaker, Ntl­hoi Mot­samai, said she needed to ver­ify the num­ber of leg­is­la­tors be­hind the pe­ti­tion.

The list had been sub­mit­ted to Ms Mot­samai in the morn­ing by All Ba­sotho Con­ven­tion (ABC) Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment (MP), Sam Ra­papa, to be read when the House sat for the af­ter­noon ses­sion.

How­ever, Ms Mot­samai re­fused to read the doc­u­ment, point­ing out some of the MPS’ sig­na­tures were not on the pe­ti­tion de­spite declar­ing it had been en­dorsed by all the 55 op­po­si­tion MPS.

The Speaker then de­manded to see the lead­ers of the three-party al­liance in cham­bers to dis­cuss the mat­ter, but the MPS ob­jected, in­sist­ing they wanted the pe­ti­tion read “as it is”.

The MPS be­longed to the ABC, Ba­sotho Na­tional Party (BNP) and Re­formed Congress of Le­sotho (RCL), and in­sisted all they wanted was for the Speaker to high­light why they have been boy­cotting par­lia­ment since 26 June this year.

Af­ter the Speaker re­fused to bow to their de­mands, ABC deputy leader Tlali Khasu ex­plained the MPS who re­fused to sign the pe­ti­tion had “their own rea­sons”, adding how­ever, this did not make the doc­u­ment fake.

But Ms Mot­samai would still not be moved and went on to ask Na­tional As­sem­bly Clerk, Fine Maema, to an­nounce the next item on the day’s agenda. How­ever, as Mr Maema started to make the an­nounce­ment, the MPS rose from their seats, cre­at­ing pan­de­mo­nium in the Au­gust House. The leg­is­la­tors then filed out of the house one by one, in­sist­ing they would not re­turn un­til their griev­ances were met.

In their let­ter of de­mand, the MPS wanted the Speaker to ad­dress sev­eral com­plaints per­tain­ing to the coun­try’s se­cu­rity and their lead­ers’ de­ci­sion to seek refuge in South Af- rica six months ago.

Former prime min­is­ter and ABC leader Thomas Tha­bane, BNP leader Th­e­sele ‘Maserib­ane and RCL leader Keketso Ran­tšo fled the coun­try in May af­ter claim­ing some mem­bers of the Le­sotho Defence Force (LDF) were out to assassinate them. The three lead­ers al­leged the group of as­sas­sins was be­ing led by LDF com­man­der Tlali Kamoli, but both gov­ern­ment and the mil­i­tary have dis­missed the claims.

Reads the MPS’ let­ter: “We the un­der­signed mem­bers of the op­po­si­tion, hereby no­tify your good of­fice that we have the fol­low­ing se­ri­ous con­cerns that may af­fect our at­ten­dance in the Na­tional As­sem­bly.

“On 26 June 2015, we walked out of par­lia­ment af­ter (former army com­man­der) Lt-gen Maa­parankoe Ma­hao had been as­sas­si­nated by mem­bers of the LDF (the pre­vi­ous day in Mokema, just out­side Maseru). We con­sid­ered this to be in­dica­tive of the pre­vail­ing se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tion in Le­sotho. We main­tain our po­si­tion that this Honourable House be given a full ac­count of this is­sue by gov­ern­ment.”

The MPS also ac­cused Ms Mot­samai of deny­ing them an ex­pla­na­tion over the death of Lt-gen Ma­hao, who the LDF says was shot as he re­sisted ar­rest for sus­pected mutiny. Twenty three LDF mem­bers are be­ing tried by a Court Mar­tial af­ter be­ing ar­rested be­tween May and June this year, in con­nec­tion with the al­leged mutiny.

“The law­less­ness per­pe­trated by the LDF and ap­par­ent help­less­ness of the rel­e­vant in­sti­tu­tions and gov­ern­ment to take re­spon­si­bil­ity, has placed the rule of law and sanc­tity in jeop­ardy.

“The in­sti­tu­tions re­spon­si­ble have nei­ther in­ter­vened nor ut­tered a word re­gard­ing this sit­u­a­tion,” the let­ter fur­ther reads.

The MPS also speak about the South­ern African De­vel­op­ment Com­mu­nity (SADC) sum­mit held in Pre­to­ria, South Africa, on July 3. The meet­ing re­solved that gov­ern­ment should cre­ate a con­ducive en­vi­ron­ment for the safe re­turn of the ex­iled lead­ers, and also en­dorsed the es­tab­lish­ment of Com­mis­sion to probe Lt-gen Ma­hao’s death and re­lated se­cu­rity is­sues.

“Madam Speaker, you are aware that the Ex­tra­or­di­nary SADC Dou­ble Troika Sum­mit of 3 July 2015 de­cided, among oth­ers, that the Gov­ern­ment of Le­sotho should cre­ate a con­ducive en­vi­ron­ment for the re­turn of op­po­si­tion lead­ers.

“We have noted with con­cern that to date, no ap­pro­pri­ate steps have been taken in this re­gard. We ur­gently re­quest that gov­ern­ment fa­cil­i­tates the es­tab­lish­ment of an in­de­pen­dent, in­clu­sive and lo­cal me­di­a­tion process cov­er­ing all ex­iled cit­i­zens, within the next 14 days.”

The leg­is­la­tors also want Lt-gen Kamoli fired and the sol­diers de­tained in Maseru Max­i­mum Pri­son for sus­pected mutiny, re­leased in line with a High Court rul­ing de­liv­ered on 5 Oc­to­ber this year.

The MPS also de­manded the ar­rest of sol­diers ac­cused of var­i­ous crimes which the leg­is­la­tors also high­lighted.

ABC sup­port­ers sing out­side par­lia­ment yes­ter­day.

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