SADC fi­nalises standby force de­ploy­ment

Lesotho Times - - News - Pas­cali­nah Kabi

THE South­ern African De­vel­op­ment Com­mu­nity (SADC) is for­mu­lat­ing the rules of en­gage­ment for its 1 200-strong standby force headed for Le­sotho start­ing next Wed­nes­day.

Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Monyane Moleleki yes­ter­day told the Le­sotho Times that the modal­i­ties of the force’s de­ploy­ment were be­ing worked out.

He in­di­cated that it was un­likely that the force would be de­ployed at the same time, since some coun­tries were still in the process of ap­prov­ing, while oth­ers had fi­nalised.

“We are ex­pect­ing the de­ploy­ment of the SADC standby force on the 1st of Novem­ber. I am not yet aware of the force’s spe­cific rules of en­gage­ment,” Mr Moleleki said

“But I think SADC is work­ing on the force’s rules of en­gage­ment. On our side, we are ex­pect­ing the de­ploy­ment to com­mence next week.

“There is no way that the many coun­tries ex­pected to de­ploy sol­diers can send them all on the same day, but we are ex­pect­ing it to begin on 1 Novem­ber.

Last week, Namibia ap­proved the de­ploy­ment of 250 sol­diers to Le­sotho as part of the standby force set to con­sist of 1 099 troops, 30 civil­ians, 34 po­lice of­fi­cers, one pathol­o­gist, four scuba divers and a po­lice mo­bile unit.

The re­ported US$$6.7 mil­lion (about M95.3 mil­lion) cost of de­ploy­ing the standby force will be in­curred by the re­gional body.

An­golan For­eign Af­fairs Min­is­ter, Manuel Au­gusto, vis­ited South Africa on Tues­day to brief the bloc’s chair­per­son and South African Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma of the sit­u­a­tion on the ground ahead of the de­ploy­ment.

Mr Au­gusto’s visit to Pre­to­ria came in the wake of a meet­ing he held last week with Le­sotho’s For­eign Af­fairs Min­is­ter Le­sego Mak­gothi in Luanda, An­gola.

Mr Mak­gothi vis­ited the coun­try seek­ing an­swers from SADC af­ter the bloc’s de­fence chiefs ear­lier this month de­cided to dis­patch a third se­cu­rity as­sess­ment mis­sion to Le­sotho.

They also de­lib­er­ated on the find­ings of a 40-mem­ber SADC tech­ni­cal as­sess­ment team that was in Le­sotho be­tween 24 and 28 Septem­ber 2017.

The De­fence Sub Com­mit­tee com­prises of army com­man­ders from all of SADC’S 14 mem­ber states. It met ear­lier this month in Luanda to de­lib­er­ate on the find­ings of the SADC tech­ni­cal as­sess­ment team.

The team had been dis­patched by a 15 Septem­ber SADC Dou­ble Troika Sum­mit to as­sess the se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tion in Le­sotho af­ter the 5 Septem­ber 2017 as­sas­si­na­tion of Le­sotho De­fence Force (LDF) com­man­der, Lieu­tenan­tGen­eral Khoan­tle Motšo­motšo by his subor­di­nates Bri­gadier Bulane Sechele and Colonel Tefo Hashatsi.

The sum­mit ap­proved Le­sotho’s re­quest for a standby force con­sist­ing of mil­i­tary, se­cu­rity, in­tel­li­gence and civil­ian ex­perts to as­sist the LDF in man­ag­ing the se­cu­rity cri­sis in the coun­try in the af­ter­math of the as­sas­si­na­tion and dur­ing the im­ple­men­ta­tion of se­cu­rity sec­tor re­forms rec­om­mended by the re­gional body.

How­ever, SADC later no­ti­fied the govern­ment that a third mis­sion was com­ing to Le­sotho. Maseru re­fused to al­low the third mis­sion, whose visit had been sched­uled for 18 Oc­to­ber, to come to the coun­try.

SADC Chair­per­son and SA Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma.

For­eign Af­fairs Min­is­ter Le­sego Mak­gothi.

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