Thabane wants SADC to take over army
. . . ABC leader wants SADC to assume control of the army and police during reform process
EXILED All Basotho Convention (ABC)C) leader Thomas Thabane has called on the e Southern African Development Community (SADC) to “take command” of the Lesotho armymy and police while the country embarks on “radical and inclusive” political and security reforms.eforms.
Dr Thabane also says a body comprising mprising “all key stakeholders” should lead the reform process for Lesotho to have lasting peaceace and stability.
Addressing a press conference at hiss refuge in Ficksburg, South Africa on Sunday,day, the ABC leader further said the “dangerousus relationship between government and the he Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) must be eliminatedminated and SADC must take command of the he army and police” to ensure “a level playingng field” in the establishment of this organization ion and during the reform process.
Dr Thabane, who fled Lesotho in May last year amid allegations some LDF members were plotting to kill him, further said thehe body should be similar to the 1998 Interim Political Authority (IPA) which introduced the Proportional Representation (PR) electoral model.
The IPA was established by an Act of Parliament and comprised two representativesntatives from all political parties which contestedsted the 1998 general elections.
Dr Thabane added all key stakeholderseholders should be involved in the reforms to ensure their acceptance by the people.
The ABC leader, who was speakingg in the presence of the party’s deputy leaderer Tlali Khasu, chairperson Motlohi Maliehe,, secretary general Samonyane Ntsekele and d Members of Parliament, emphasised the need to ensure the reforms are “inclusive”.
“What is key is that the country must undergo radical and inclusive constitutional,utional, political, public service and securityy sector reforms, which should be identified, decided and formulated jointly by all Lesothoo stakeholders,” Dr Thabane said.
“For credible reforms to take place,ace, the ABC stand is as follows: the governmentrnment should establish an independent reformrm process similar to the Independent Politicalical Authority deployed following the 1998 political conflict, and consisting of all political parties and civil society and assisted by SADCDC and international cooperating partners, includingncluding the Commonwealth. Such a body should ould be operational as soon as possible;
“SADC should serve as an overseer and facilitator and appoint a permanent envoy nvoy for the duration of the dialogue on reforms;ms;
“The wider international community,ty, particularly, African Union, United Nations ons and Commonwealth should provide support rt and;
“Reform proposals by the Commonwealthnwealth (the New Zealand reforms) and SADCC (Constitutional and Institutional Reforms) should form the basis from which to work.”
Dr Thabane also said there is needd to end what he called a “dangerous” relationship tionship between the army and government iff the reforms are to materialise.
“To prepare a level playing field for the consultation, the dangerous relationship between government and the armed forces should ould be eliminated.
“A temporary SADC command of the he LDF and to a lesser extent, the police, will ll be required to cultivate a conducive climatee for the reform consultation.
“In parallel, all those responsible for the murder in June 2015 of former armymy commander, Maaparankoe Mahao, should ould be charged and prosecuted under a credibleble judicial process,” said Dr Thabane.
The reforms, he added, would ensurere Lesotho functions properly under a coalition ion government.
Dr Thabane led Lesotho’s first coalition government when his ABC entered into an alliance with the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) and Basotho National Party (BNP) after the 2012 general elections had resulted in a hung parliament. However, the government collapsed due to persistent squabbles between Dr Thabane and LCD leader and Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing, leading to an early election in February 2015.
“The first coalition government collapsed due to lack of readiness by political parties to manage coalitions under a Mixed Member Proportional Representation model,” Dr Thabane explained.
“Lesotho established its first coalition government without the requisite legal instru- ments a n d practices. First, the constitution and other laws fell short on several fronts, including clarifying the roles of key positions when power is shared between political parties.
“Second, institutions for forming and running government also lacked the capacity required to support and oversee an executive comprising several parties.
“Lesotho’s democracy also seemed to lack basic elements of democracy such as segregation and sovereignty of power and the principle of checks and balances.”
Dr Thabane also noted the relationship between the army and political parties had “undermined” the country’s democracy since independence in 1966.
“Frequent alignments between security establishments and political parties have undermined our democracy for the last 50 years,” he said.
“Politicians are able to leverage political power through alignments with officers of the army, who can then mount an intimidation campaign throughout the election period and encourage inappropriate behaviour.
“Reforms should be undertaken to sever any possibilities of such alignments between political parties and security forces.” He also said the ABC proposes the reforms should safeguard the PR system from abuse, as well as Senate seats. “Proportional representation and Senate seats are increasingly being used by parties forming government to reward members who have lost elections or have played significant roles to undermine sitting governments,” the ABC leader said. “The 11 seats in the Upper House have been used traditionally to bring experts into government. “However, in recent times, they are increasingly being used to reward politicians who have lost their seats. “When voters express choice, but the choice is subverted by the party leadership in bringing into parliament and government, politicians who competed and lost seats, it undermines and weakens democracy. “The recent allocation of Senate seats points to the need to review the architecture of the Upper House. Perhaps it is time for political parties to field adequate professionals to support a professional government and for the Senate or party to be elected,” said Thabane. He also noted Lesotho had been “ushered into an era where popular votes are distorted by small parties that become kingmakers” of coal coalition governments.
“L “Lesotho’s electoral model, while compensati sating for popular vote performance, has intr introduced new distortions that undermine dem democracy.
“D “Deep personal mistrusts have ensured that large parties cannot come together to form government.
“I “Instead, smaller parties have become king kingmakers that hold large parties to ransom som, dictating beyond their vote tallies how gove governments should be established and run, and all the time threatening to scuttle the gove government of the day.
“T “This contrived formations is inconsistent with the will of the people. It is regrettably due to past political reforms that have not trul truly gone to the heart of entrenching proper dem democracy.”
H He also said the country had not benefitted from numerous previous domestic and internati national efforts to establish lasting peace and need needs to ensure the current intervention is effec effective.
“E “Each iteration of mediation has calmed the curr current conflict, but failed to address the underl derlying causes for the ongoing conflict. The sam same board themes have emerged in each roun round of conflict, namely deliberate politicisati sation of the Lesotho Defence Force and the broa broader public service; polarisation of society on p political lines with conflict overtones and the absence of political commitment to necessary reforms and lasting peace and stability,” said Dr Thabane.
H He further said the critical challenge facing the country was how to restore mutual trust amo among political actors and implement the requir quired reforms.
“T “There is urgent need for political leaders to rest restore mutual trust amongst their followers and promote a culture of tolerance and common interests of Basotho ahead of partisan inte interests.
“R “Reversing polarisation and seeking reconci onciliation will pave the way for security and parl parliamentary reforms within a framework of polit political stability, trusts and national unity, good governance and accelerated economic and social growth transformation and respect for t the rule of law and human rights,” said Dr Tha Thabane.
C Contacted for comment yesterday, the Prim Prime Minister’s spokesperson Motumi Rale Ralejoe said: “SADC is a regional institution foun founded by governments and works with governm ernments.
“I “It should be clear that SADC has given our gove government time to show how it is going to add address the reforms issues.
“I “It is only fair for government to be given spac space to address the recommendations. And gove government will report to the SADC summit to be held in Swaziland in August what it ha has achieved. The opposition should go before parliament as it is a national platform for t them to address any political issues they might have.
“It’s also important that society should accept this is a democratically elected government of the day and the buck stops with this government.
“The government’s role it to prepare a report on the recommendations and submit progress achieved to the SADC summit.
“However, it’s disturbing and ill-advised and thoughts not meant to promote peace but only divisions within society to suggest our security agencies should be commanded by SADC.
“This government can run its own affairs competently. Suggestions that SADC should take over the command of the police and the army are frivolous and a nonstarter”.
ABC leader thomas thabane