SADC ‘can end siege’ in Le­sotho

SA DE­FENCE MIN­IS­TER: CITES ROGUE ARMY EL­E­MENTS AS CAUSE OF RE­NEWED IN­STA­BIL­ITY

The Citizen (Gauteng) - - NEWS -

King­dom’s army chief was as­sas­si­nated by two ri­val of­fi­cers ear­lier this month.

The South­ern African De­vel­op­ment Com­mu­nity (SADC) has the ca­pac­ity to end the po­lit­i­cal and se­cu­rity ten­sion in the King­dom of Le­sotho, South African De­fence Min­is­ter No­siviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said yes­ter­day at the launch of a min­is­te­rial sum­mit in Pre­to­ria.

There is cur­rently in­sta­bil­ity and fears of re­newed tur­moil in the small moun­tain king­dom.

“As a re­gion, our de­ter­mi­na­tion to ac­com­pany the peo­ple of Le­sotho in their quest to lay to rest their po­lit­i­cal and se­cu­rity chal­lenges should not be doubted.

“Our re­gion has the ca­pac­ity and the po­lit­i­cal will to en­sure that Le­sotho gets out of the siege by rogue army el­e­ments and other se­cu­rity rene­gades,” Mapisa-Nqakula said at the SADC min­is­ters’ sum­mit.

The min­is­te­rial sum­mit will be fol­lowed by a Dou­ble Troika Sum­mit of heads of state and gov­ern­ment, also in Pre­to­ria.

“We must com­mend Pres­i­dent Ed­uardo dos San­tos [of An­gola, who is also chair­per­son of the SADC Or­gan on Pol­i­tics, De­fence and Se­cu­rity] for his prompt re­sponse to the pre­vail­ing sit­u­a­tion in the king­dom by dis­patch­ing a min­is­te­rial fact-find­ing mis­sion to Le­sotho.

“We look for­ward to re­ceiv­ing the re­port of the fact-find­ing mis­sion, as well as the rec­om­men­da­tions of the de­fence sub-com­mit­tee, which met on Septem­ber 12 and 13.”

Mapisa-Nqakula said South­ern African De­vel­op­ment Com­mu­nity lead­ers were meet­ing “un­der a dark cloud” to dis­cuss the way for­ward in Le­sotho.

“You will re­call that not long ago we were meet­ing in this build­ing, de­lib­er­at­ing on the sit­u­a­tion in Le­sotho.

“Dur­ing that time we re­ceived a clear com­mit­ment from the new gov­ern­ment to im­ple­ment all SADC de­ci­sions and rec­om­men­da­tions.

“Lit­tle did we know that we would have to meet so soon af­ter that and once more dis­cuss the po­lit­i­cal and se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tion in the king­dom,” South Africa’s de­fence min­is­ter said in an ad­dress to del­e­gates.

“We meet here un­der a dark cloud fol­low­ing the bru­tal as­sas­si­na­tion of Lieu­tenant-Gen­eral Khoan­tle Mot­so­motso, Com­man­der of the Le­sotho De­fence Force.

“On be­half of the chair­per­son of this sum­mit, Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma, and Pres­i­dent Dos San­tos and the lead­er­ship of our re­gion, I wish to con­vey sin­cere con­do­lences to the fam­ily of Gen­eral Mot­so­motso, the gov­ern­ment and the peo­ple of Le­sotho.”

She said the “un­timely death” of Lieu­tenant-Gen­eral Mot­so­motso had un­der­scored the im­por­tance of deal­ing ef­fec­tively with the per­sis­tent po­lit­i­cal prob­lems in Le­sotho.

Se­cu­rity was tight­ened at OR Tambo Build­ing – the head­quar­ters of the department of in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions in Pre­to­ria – yes­ter­day as Pres­i­dent Zuma, as the chair­per­son of SADC, con­vened the re­gional bloc’s Dou­ble Troika Sum­mit.

Nu­mer­ous po­lice ve­hi­cles, in­clud­ing Nyalas, were on the premises.

Ve­hi­cles en­ter­ing the OR Tambo Build­ing had to go through se­cu­rity checks first, in­clud­ing be­ing given the once-over by po­lice snif­fer dogs.

Inside the premises, full-body scan­ners, manned by nu­mer­ous po­lice of­fi­cers, had been placed at dif­fer­ent points lead­ing to the con­fer­ence rooms.

In one area, wait­ers from a cater­ing com­pany were stand­ing in a queue to have their pack­ages of food and drinks scanned.

Zuma is ex­pected to be joined by heads of state and gov­ern­ment from Swazi­land, An­gola, Tan­za­nia and Namibia at the sum­mit.

Mot­so­motso was killed ear­lier this month.

The two se­nior of­fi­cers who were al­legedly re­spon­si­ble for the mur­der were also killed in a shoot-out at bar­racks in Le­sotho’s cap­i­tal Maseru.

Eye­wit­nesses to the at­tack said the of­fi­cers burst into the army chief’s of­fice and shot him, be­fore be­ing killed by guards. – ANA

AFP Pic­ture:

RI­VAL­RIES. The cof­fin of Le­sotho’s army chief, Lieu­tenant-Gen­eral Khoan­tle Mot­so­motso, is car­ried at his fu­neral in Mal­iba­matso. King Let­sie III said that the killing of the coun­try’s army com­man­der had caused ‘em­bar­rass­ment’ and ‘scared’ the small moun­tain king­dom.

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