Moleleki rub­bishes Tha­bane talks

…Op­po­si­tion tells Amer­i­cans

Lesotho Times - - Front Page - Keiso Mohloboli

THE op­po­si­tion al­liance yes­ter­day told Amer­i­can of­fi­cials that the gov­ern­ment was “afraid” to im­ple­ment the SADC Com­mis­sion of In­quiry rec­om­men­da­tions be­cause they feared the wrath of army com­man­der Lieu­tenant-gen­eral Tlali Kamoli.

The al­liance made the claim dur­ing a meet­ing with United States (US) Deputy As­sis­tant Sec­re­tary for South­ern Africa and Pub­lic Diplo­macy Todd Haskell, Am­bas­sador to Le­sotho Matthew Har­ring­ton, Deputy Chief of Mis­sion El­iz­a­beth Pel­letreau and Po­lit­i­cal Af­fairs Of­fi­cer Daniel Kobayashi at the Amer­i­can embassy in Maseru.

Dur­ing the meet­ing, the All Ba­sotho Con­ven­tion ( ABC) was rep­re­sented by Sec­re­tary-gen­eral Sa­monyane Nt­sekele and Dr Moeketsi Ma­joro, the Ba­sotho Na­tional Party (BNP) by deputy leader Joang Mo­lapo, while the Re­formed Congress of Le­sotho (RCL) was rep­re­sented by deputy leader Dr Mot­lo­h­eloa Phooko and ‘Mach­a­bana Lem­phane-let­sie.

In an in­ter­view with the Le­sotho Times af­ter the meet­ing, Dr Phooko said the al­liance told the US of­fi­cials that the gov­ern­ment could not im­ple­ment the rec­om­men­da­tions of the Jus­tice Mphaphi Phumaphi-led Com­mis­sion of In­quiry as they feared rais­ing the ire of Lt-gen Kamoli.

SADC com­mis­sioned Botswana judge Jus­tice Phumaphi to lead a 10-mem­ber team of le­gal and se­cu­rity ex­perts in prob­ing Le­sotho’s se­cu­rity and po­lit­i­cal chal­lenges fol­low­ing the fa­tal shoot­ing of for­mer army com­man­der Maa­parankoe Ma­hao on 25 June 2015. Lt-gen Ma­hao was killed by his army col­leagues al­legedly while re­sist­ing ar­rest for sus­pected mutiny. The probe was held be­tween 31 Au­gust and 23 Oc­to­ber 2015.

Among the com­mis­sion’s rec­om­men­da­tions was the dis­missal of Lt-gen Kamoli “in the in­ter­est of restor­ing trust and ac­cep­tance of the Le­sotho De­fence Force (LDF) to the Ba­sotho na­tion”.

How­ever, mem­bers of the seven-party co- ali­tion gov­ern­ment have since de­claredared that the LDF chief would re­main in of­ficece un­til Le­sotho goes to the polls in 2020.

Said Dr Phooko: “The US is awarere the Le­sotho gov­ern­ment is un­will­ing to im­ple­ment SADC rec­om­men­da­tions, hence nce the con­tin­u­a­tion of the po­lit­i­cal and se­cu­ri­tyu­rity in­sta­bil­ity in the coun­try.

“Much like we have said to other in­ter­na­tional bod­ies and gov­ern­ments, thehe op­po­si­tion told Mr Haskell that the gov­ern­vern­ment had not re­leased the sol­diers who were ar­rested for al­leged mutiny andd are still be­ing de­tained.”

The LDF ar­rested 23 sol­diers lastt year for al­legedly plot­ting to over­throw w the LDF com­mand. How­ever, seven of f the sol­diers have since been re­leased from de­ten­tion and placed un­der open ar­rest. est. The sol­diers’ trial is con­tin­u­ing be­fore ore the Court Mar­tial.

The RCL deputy leader said thee gov­ern­ment was un­der pres­sure too ap­pease Lt-gen Kamoli.

“The gov­ern­ment seems afraid too re­move Lt-gen Kamoli de­spite thee re­gional bloc’s rec­om­men­da­tion that t he must be re­moved and sol­diers s who took part in the killing of the for­rmer army boss Lt-gen Maa­parankoe oe Ma­hao should be sus­pended while theirheir case is be­ing in­ves­ti­gates,” Dr Phooko o said.

The op­po­si­tion al­liance, he said, told the Amer­i­cans the rec­om­men­da­tions should­hould be im­ple­mented so the op­po­si­tion andd gov­ern­ment can work together on bring­ing “l “lastingi peace and sta­bil­ity to Le­sotho”.

Dr Phooko added Mr Haskell said he had taken note of the op­po­si­tion’s con­cerns over the rule of law and gov­er­nance in the coun­try.

Chief Mo­lapo also told the Le­sotho Times that the op­po­si­tion re­it­er­ated gov­er­nance con­cerns the Amer­i­cans al­ready knew.

“The US gov­ern­ment al­ready knows that Le­sotho has po­lit­i­cal and se­cu­rity prob­lems,” he said.

“The op­po­si­tion had noth­ing new to tell Mr Haskell other than to high­light our con­cerns about the con­tin­ued stay of Lt-gen Kamoli at the helm of the LDF, the fail­ure by the gov­ern­ment to ar­rest the killers of Lt-gen Ma­hao and the need for the ex­iled op­po­si­tion lead­ers to re­turn home.”

ABC leader Thomas Tha­bane and his BNP and RCL coun­ter­parts Th­e­sele ‘Maserib­ane and Keketso Ran­tšo re­spec­tively fled to South Africa in May last year say­ing their lives were in dan­ger from mem­bers of the mil­i­tary.

Chief Mo­lapo also ac­cused the gov­ern­ment of “not do­ing any­thing” to bring peace and sta­bil­ity in the coun­try be­cause they wanted “to pro­tect Kamoli’s in­ter­ests”.

“We are hop­ing that the gov­ern­ment will some­day ac­cept that there is a po­lit­i­cal and se­cu­rity prob­lem in the coun­try, and al­low talks with the op­po­si­tion to iron out the dif­fer­ences and start work­ing together.

“The cur­rent gov­ern­ment only wants to pro­tect the in­ter­ests and po­si­tion of one per­son and does not care about the rest of the coun­try. What is im­por­tant to the gov­ern­ment is Lt-gen Kamoli and no­body else,” he said adding they told Mr Haskell that the ex­iled lead­ers would not re­turn if Lt-gen Kamo- li re­mained the com­man­der of the LDF.

Mr Nt­sekele also said they told the Amer­i­cans that the gov­ern­ment’s stance was putting the sup­port Le­sotho re­ceived from de­vel­op­ment part­ners such as the MCC and AGOA (African Growth and Op­por­tu­nity Act) in jeop­ardy.

“SADC, African Union, Euro­pean Union and the US are all aware of Le­sotho’s po­lit­i­cal and se­cu­rity prob­lems hence the coun­try’s risk of los­ing eco­nom­i­cal sup­port,” he said.

For his part, Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Min­is­ter Khotso Let­satsi said the gov­ern­ment held a meet­ing with Mr Haskell.

“I can only con­firm that Mr Haskell met the Right Hon­ourable the Prime Min­is­ter Dr Pakalitha Mo­sisili to­day, but can’t give any more de­tails since it was a closed-door meet­ing. At the mo­ment, Dr Mo­sisili has not shared what he dis­cussed with Mr Haskell,” Mr Let­satsi said.

Mr Haskell ar­rived in Le­sotho this week to as­sess the impact of the US gov­ern­ment’s Pres­i­dent’s Emer­gency Plan For AIDS Re­lief (PEPFAR) and the Mil­len­nium Chal­lenge Cor­po­ra­tion’s (MCC) ren­o­va­tion of health cen­tres un­der Com­pact One com­pleted in 2013, be­fore meet­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tives of gov­ern­ment, the op­po­si­tion, the diplo­matic com­mu­nity, and civil so­ci­ety.

See re­lated story on Page 10.

BNP deputy leader Joang Mo­lapo.

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