KAMOLI HERE TO STAY: LCD
. . .declaration flies in the face of one of SADC commission’s recommendations
IN a move likely to raise the ire of the opposition and civic groups and possibly place the government at renewed loggerheads with its regional counterparts, the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD), a key player in the ruling coalition, has declared that army commander Lieutenant-general Tlali Kamoli is here to stay and no amount of pressure would force Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili’s government to fire him.
Party spokesperson Teboho Sekata told a news conference in Maseru that Lt-gen Kamoli would remain head of the military until Lesotho goes to the polls in 2020.
If exiled opposition leaders continue insisting on Lt-gen Kamoli’s dismissal as a pre-condition for their return, then they might as well stay in South Africa for the next four years when the country holds its next scheduled general elections, the belligerent Mr Sekata declared.
Mr Sekata’s remarks were aimed at making categorical to a coalition of civic groups due to convene a mass protest today to demand the speedy implementation of recommendations of a regional inquiry into Leso- tho’s instability that they were just wasting their time. Mr Sekata explicitly condem condemned the civic groups who have called for today’s stayaway and protest march to pr pressurize the government into “speedily” implementing the Southern African D Development Community (SADC)( SADC) recom recommendations aimed at ending Lesotho’s instability.inst The recommendations were made by a 10-member team of regional security and legal experts after probing the circumstances surrounding the fatal shooting of former army commander M Maaparankoe Mahao. Lt-gen Mahao was k killed on 25 June 2015 outside Maseru by his military colleagues, alle allegedly while resisting arrest for suspected mutiny. Central to the SADC Inquiry recommendationsrecom is the dismiss dismissal of Lt-gen Kamoli “in the interest of restoring trust and acceptance of the Les Lesotho Defence Force to the Basotho nation”, and the suspension of all LDF of officers implicated in case cases of murder, attempted murderm and treason whilewhi investigations into the their cases proceed “in line with international bes best practice”. The Com Commission, led by Justice M Mpaphi Phumaphi of Botswana, also recommended government should ensure criminal investigations into the death of LtGen Mahao are pursued “vigorously” and that the police are empowered and resourced accordingly for the task. The investigations, the Commission added, should be conducted “expeditiously and comprehensively without any hindrance and that all physical evidence be surrendered and the finality of the investigations should lead to a transparent course of justice”. The Commission also recommended that the government should ensure the safe return of opposition leaders — Thomas Thabane, Thesele ‘ Maseribane and Keketso Rantšo of the All Basotho Convention (ABC), Basotho National Party and Reformed Congress of Lesotho respectively — who fled for South Africa in May last year saying they had been alerted of a plot, allegedly by some LDF members, to assassinate them. The leaders also claimed the alleged plot was being masterminded by Lt-gen Kamoli. All the three leaders have vowed never to return to Lesotho until Lt-gen Kamoli is removed as LDF commander. But according to Mr Sekata, Lt-gen Kamoli is going nowhere and the government would not be forced into removing him by anyone.
Lesotho’s international aid partners, particularly the Americans, had also called for Lt-gen Kamoli’s removal after branding him a “divisive figure”.
Mr Sekata’s remarks mark the first ever time that a key player in the current seven party coalition government has publicly confirmed that the government would never follow SADC’S key recommendation to fire Kamoli.
This stance will likely complicate efforts to achieve long lasting stability and reconciliation as all exiled opposition leaders have made Lt-gen Kamoli’s firing –– as per the SADC recommendations –– a key pre-condition for their return.
“Of the four recommendations made by SADC’S Phumaphi Commission, it’s funny that the opposition and the rest of the people who say they are concerned and want them speedily implemented, are just interested in the removal of Ntate Kamoli,” Mr Sekata said.
“The LCD has made it very clear that we have always wanted Ntate Kamoli as army commander, when on the other hand, the opposition wanted Maaparankoe Mahao. So how is it possible that after the people have spoken and entrusted us with the government, we even dare think of removing this commander we always wanted?
“We were voted into power because of what we were saying in our campaigns. We got the commander we always believed in so the opposition can’t just wish him away. He is there until 2020, at the earliest, and that is only if the opposition gets back into government through democratic elections.”
Mr Sekata also said it was now very important for exiled opposition leaders to realise that they might have to stay in South Africa until 2020 if Lt-gen Kamoli’s removal is a condition for their return.
“Those opposition leaders will have to make peace with Kamoli being the commander because he is not going anywhere anytime soon. It’s either they make peace with it or wait for the next elections in 2020. And if they are lucky and are voted back into power, then and only then shall their wish to remove him be granted,” said Mr Sekata, in the most effusive remarks yet against the SADC recommendation for the army commander’s ouster.
“Until the King has dissolved parliament in 2020 and called for the next elections, Commander Kamoli remains in his position.”
The entire top brass of the government had hitherto shied away from addressing the topic of Lt-gen Kamoli’s dismissal as per SADC recommendations. In releasing the SADC Inquiry report in Parliament, Dr Mosisili had said the government would implement some of the recommendations in the short, medium and long-term while others “would never see the light of day”.
Dr Mosisili did not elaborate on which SADC recommendations would never see the light of day. Mr Sekata’s remarks nevertheless seem to now confirm that the firing of Lt-general Kamoli could be one such recommendation that the Prime Minister had in mind when he declared that some of the recommendations would never see the light of day.
Such a stance may also put the government at loggerheads with SADC. The regional body had in its previous communiques explicitly called upon the Lesotho government to implement all the recommendations of its Inquiry.
On today’s call for a stay-away and protest march by ‘Concerned Non-state Actors’, Mr Sekata said there would be security to ensure people who want to go to work do so safely. He warned those planning the protest march against violating the country’s laws.
“They should know that their right to exercise their powers ends where ours to swing our arms begin,” said Mr Sekata.
Asked to comment on Mr Sekata’s declaration, ABC spokesperson Tefo Mapesela said the statement was unfortunate. Mr Mapesela also said the government should explain if it had mandated the LCD to speak on its behalf.
“Sekata has no authority to be saying all this. There were many recommendations made by the Commission of Inquiry so why does he think we are only interested in this particular one which calls for Kamoli’s removal?
“The government has never revealed its stance regarding these recommendations and it’s time it tells us the role of the LCD so that we may start taking Sekata’s utterances seriously,” Mr Mapesela said.
“Like I said, the government should clearly state if it has mandated the LCD to handle government issues on its own, so we know how to respond and the right platform to do so.”
However, Mr Mapesela also said the opposition still had confidence and faith that the government would implement the recommendations.
“We still have faith that the government will engage us in talks pertaining to the recommendations. The LCD is not in government alone. It is a partner in this coalition government,” said Mr Mapesela.
But since the LCD is the second most powerful coalition partner without whom the coalition government cannot survive, it seems Mr Sekata’s remarks puts paid to any opposition hopes of achieving Lt-gen Kamoli’s removal.
LDF Commander Lieutenant-general Tlali Kamoli
LIEUTENANT-GENERAL Tlali Kamoli