Ex-LDF chief Kamoli faces po­lice in­ter­ro­ga­tion

Ac­cused of car­ry­ing out atroc­i­ties

Cape Times - - WORLD NEWS -

LIEU­TENANT-Gen­eral Tlali Kamoli, for­mer com­man­der of the Le­sotho De­fence Force (LDF), ac­cused of over­see­ing atroc­i­ties, in­clud­ing an Au­gust 2014 coup, is in po­lice cus­tody.

Spokesper­son In­spec­tor Mpiti Mopeli said Kamoli had handed him­self in on Wed­nes­day and re­mains in cus­tody pend­ing the out­come of an in­ter­ro­ga­tion.

Un­der Kamoli’s lead­er­ship, Le­sotho lurched from one cri­sis to an­other. As­sas­si­na­tion of gov­ern­ment op­po­nents be­came rou­tine and at one stage all op­po­si­tion lead­ers fled into ex­ile un­til the col­lapse of the gov­ern­ment of Prime Min­is­ter Pakalitha Mo­sisili, Kamoli’s main bene­fac­tor, ear­lier this year.

The new coali­tion gov­ern­ment of Prime Min­is­ter Thomas Tha­bane had not been ex­pected to make a move against Kamoli un­til a South­ern African De­vel­op­ment Com­mu­nity standby force ex­pected on Novem­ber 1 ar­rived. Tha­bane had asked for the standby force in case Kamoli and his sup­port­ers in the army de­cided to re­sist moves to hold them ac­count­able for atroc­i­ties.

But the standby force’s ar­rival is mired in con­tro­versy after SADC army chiefs, meet­ing in An­gola last week, de­cided to dis­patch a third se­cu­rity as­sess­ment on Oc­to­ber 18 be­fore the de­ploy­ment of the con­tin­gent force.

The move has in­fu­ri­ated Le­sotho which ar­gues that the se­cu­rity chiefs had no man­date to de­cide on the de­ploy­ment of an­other force but only to de­ter­mine its size as per the de­ci­sion of a SADC dou­ble troika sum­mit chaired by Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma last month.

For­eign Af­fairs Min­is­ter Le­sego Mak­gothi hinted that Le­sotho would not al­low an­other as­sess­ment mis­sion after the de­ploy­ment of at least 1 200 sol­diers.

The SADC bat­tal­ion would help pro­tect Tha­bane’s gov­ern­ment should Kamoli and other rene­gade sol­diers re­sist ar­rest.

Mak­gothi trav­elled to Botswana to meet SADC ex­ec­u­tive sec­re­tary Ster­gom­ena Lawrence Tax to voice con­cerns at the in­evitable de­lay in send­ing the con­tin­gent force.

Mak­gothi told the Le­sotho Times news­pa­per that the gov­ern­ment wanted to know how the de­fence sub­com­mit­tee of SADC army chiefs could “over­rule” a de­ci­sion of the SADC Dou­ble Troika Sum­mit to de­ploy the con­tin­gent force. He said the sub­com­mit­tee was only to have dis­cussed and de­cided the force’s size, ten­ure and scope and not make a de­ci­sion about de­ploy­ing an­other as­sess­ment mis­sion.

SADC dis­patched a tech­ni­cal as­sess­ment team to as­sess the se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tion in Le­sotho after the Septem­ber 5 as­sas­si­na­tion of Kamoli’s suc­ces­sor at the LDF, Lieu­tenant-Gen­eral Khoan­tle Motšo-motšo by his sub­or­di­nates Bri­gadier Bu­lane Sechele and Colonel Tefo Hashatsi.

Sechele and Hashatsi were in turn killed by Motšo­motšo’s body­guards in the af­ter­math of the as­sas­si­na­tion. The two sur­bo­d­i­nates had gone to see Motšo­motšo to protest against a de­ci­sion to hand over ac­cused sol­diers for prose­cu­tion.

Kamoli was ap­pointed as LDF com­man­der by then prime min­is­ter Pakalitha Mo­sisili in early 2012. Tha­bane then won elec­tions the same year and in­her­ited Kamoli.

When he tried to fire him two years later in Au­gust 2014, Kamoli re­sponded by stag­ing a coup at­tempt, forc­ing Tha­bane to flee. He only re­turned a week later un­der heavy South African po­lice guard.

Cyril Ramaphosa’s me­di­a­tion saw Kamoli be­ing tem­po­rar­ily removed from his post and be­ing sent abroad along­side Maa­parankoe Ma­hao, whom Tha­bane had ap­pointed to re­place Kamoli.

After Mo­sisili was re­turned to power fol­low­ing Fe­bru­ary 2015 elec­tions called to re­solve the cri­sis in Le­sotho, after Tha­bane had fallen out with his coali­tion part­ner Methotjoa Mets­ing of the Le­sotho Congress for Democ­racy, Kamoli was re­turned to the helm of the LDF and Ma­hao was fired.

Kamoli im­me­di­ately launched re­venge at­tacks that saw the killing of Ma­hao by a group of army of­fi­cers.

Nu­mer­ous other op­po­nents of Mo­sisili’s gov­ern­ment were as­sas­si­nated.

A com­mis­sion of in­quiry es­tab­lished by the SADC rec­om­mended Kamoli’s re­moval re­sult­ing in his oust­ing in De­cem­ber after the US had threat­ened to throw Le­sotho out of the African Growth and Op­por­tu­nity Act un­less Kamoli was removed sooner.

Mo­sisili’s coali­tion col­lapsed and fresh elec­tions, re­sound­ingly won by Tha­bane, were held on June 3.

Tha­bane’s coali­tion gov­ern­ment has com­mit­ted to im­ple­ment­ing all SADC rec­om­men­da­tions which called for the prose­cu­tion of all sol­diers in­volved in past atroc­i­ties. A num­ber of LDF mem­bers have al­ready been ar­rested and charged for crimes that were com­mit­ted over the past few years.

Divers from the South African po­lice have been in Le­sotho to help in the search for the re­mains of peo­ple killed by sol­diers and dumped into dams dur­ing Kamoli’s reign.

But it is the fear that sol­diers be­ing ar­rested could of­fer re­sis­tance that led SADC to agree to Le­sotho’s re­quest for a con­tin­gent force. – In­de­pen­dent For­eign Ser­vice

TLALI KAMOLI

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