Po­lice probe obe threats too US en­voy

Lesotho Times - - Front Page - ’Marafaele Mohloboli

PO­LICE are in­ves­ti­gat­ing a case in which United States Am­bas­sador to Le­sotho Matthew Har­ring­ton ex­pressed con­cern about his safety after an of­fi­cial from one of the seven gov­ern­ing par­ties de­scribed the di­plo­mat as a “ter­ror­ist”.

Bokang Ra­matšella, who is a mem­ber of one of the fac­tions of the Le­sotho Peo­ple’s Congress, has ac­cused Mr Har­ring­ton of be­ing a “ter­ror­ist bent on desta­bil­is­ing Le­sotho” on var­i­ous me­dia plat­forms.

Maseru Ur­ban District Com­mis­sioner Mot­latsi Map­ola yes­ter­day con­firmed the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, say­ing Mr Har­ring­ton had re­ported the is­sue to the po­lice and raised con­cerns about his se­cu­rity due to the re­marks.

“I am di­rectly deal­ing with a mat­ter in which Am­bas­sador Har­ring­ton has com­plained that his se­cu­rity has been com­pro­mised by the re­marks. We are cur­rently in­ves­ti­gat­ing the mat­ter, and once we are done, the po­lice will open a case against Ra­matšella.”

Se­nior Su­per­in­ten­dent Map­ola said he held a lengthy dis­cus­sion on the is­sue with the Act­ing US Am­bas­sador to Le­sotho Ran­dald Dern­nett. Mr Har­ring­ton is cur­rently on leave in the US.

“We dis­cussed a lot of is­sues per­tain­ing to his se­cu­rity and that of Ba­sotho in gen­eral,” he said.

For­eign Af­fairs and In­ter­na­tional Re­la­tions Min­is­ter Tlo­hang Sekhamane told the Le­sotho Times yes­ter­day Mr Har­ring­ton had ex­pressed con­cerns about his safety due to Mr Ra­matšella’s ut­ter­ances.

“The am­bas­sador told me he was go­ing on leave and would re­turn after some time as his mother is not feel­ing well. He also said it was not right for Ra­matšella to be mak­ing such ut­ter­ances,” said Mr Sekhamane.

“He pleaded with the gov­ern­ment to in­ter­vene and rep­ri­mand Ra­matšella so he can stop mak­ing the threats.”

Mr Ra­matšella’s vit­ri­olic re­marks also drew the ire of the main op­po­si­tion party All Ba­sotho con­ven­tion (ABC), which called on the coali­tion gov­ern­ment to pro­nounce it­self on the Amer­i­can en­voy.

In a press re­lease is­sued on Fri­day last week, the ABC also apol­o­gised to Mr Har­ring­ton and the US gov­ern­ment on be­half of Ba­sotho. Con­tacted for com­ment, a de­fi­ant Mr Ra­matšella said he would not re­tract his state­ments.

“I re­peat and main­tain that Har­ring­ton is a ter­ror­ist. Since com­ing to Le­sotho, he has been say­ing there is no rule of law in this coun­try, yet many peo­ple are dy­ing in large num­bers in his coun­try. That’s hypocrisy,” he said.

“It is clear that Har­ring­ton and the ABC are birds of a feather since they flock to­gether by al­ways say­ing the same things. The ABC is like a dog that has lost its trail. They have lost their po­lit­i­cal track hence they are al­ways seek­ing sym­pa­thy from for­eign­ers.”

Mr Ra­matšella said the warn­ing by the di­plo­mat that Le­sotho risked los­ing trade and aid pref­er­ences un­der the African Growth and Op­por­tu­nity Act (AGOA) and Mil­len­nium Chal­lenge Cor­po­ra­tion’s (MCC) were “ter- ror­ist state­ments”.

Ear­lier this month, Mr Har­ring­ton in­sisted Le­sotho would only con­tinue to ben­e­fit from AGOA and MCC after tak­ing “con­crete ac­tions” that ad­dress con­cerns about “im­punity and the rule of law” as well as im­ple­ment­ing rec­om­men­da­tions made by the South­ern African De­vel­op­ment Com­mu­nity (SADC) Com­mis­sion of In­quiry.

Among the rec­om­men­da­tions of the in­quiry was the re­moval of Le­sotho De­fence Force (LDF) com­man­der, Lieu­tenant-gen­eral Tlali Kamoli, and crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tions into the death of for­mer army chief Maa­parankoe Ma­hao.

“Har­ring­ton is al­ways mak­ing ter­ror­ist state­ments like threat­en­ing to end AGOA and MCC if the com­man­der of the LDF is not re­moved. That’s ter­ror­ism,” Mr Ra­matšella charged.

“Ter­ror­ism is de­fined as in­still­ing fear and vi­o­lence, and this is what Har­ring­ton has been do­ing. His ut­ter­ances are al­ways against the gov­ern­ment of the day and meant to desta­bilise our coali­tion.”

He said the en­voy’s man­date “was to work in har­mony with the gov­ern­ment and not against it as he is do­ing”. Mr Ra­matšella also took is­sue with Mr Har­ring­ton’s ref­er­ence to the for­mer army com­man­der who was killed by his col­leagues al­legedly while re­sist­ing ar­rest on 25 June 2015.

“We can’t deny that Ma­hao was killed, but his death was not po­lit­i­cally-mo­ti­vated. He died a brigadier and there is a gazette to that ef­fect. How­ever, each time Har­ring­ton refers to Ma­hao’s killing he calls him gen­eral. By so do­ing, he is un­der-min­ing our author­ity and gov­ern­ment,” he said.

“If I have erred in bring­ing up these is­sues and in­sulted Har­ring­ton and the US gov­ern­ment, let them take me to court. Har­ring­ton will never live in peace in my coun­try un­less he changes his be­hav­iour.”

At­tempts to get a com­ment from the US Em­bassy re­mained fruit­less un­til the time of go­ing to press.

LPC Mem­ber Bokang Ra­matšella.

US Am­bas­sador Matthew Har­ring­ton.

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