Expel two SA officers from mission – Lesotho
MASERU: Lesotho has demanded the expulsion of two senior officers from a SADC police mission, accusing them of sabotaging the security of Prime Minister Tom Thabane and other top officials.
In a confidential letter to the Southern African Development Community and its lead negotiator Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday, the government expressed “certain reservations” about a South African lieutenant-colonel and a brigadier.
“Once we request that they be immediately released from their services, it’s effectively saying they are expected to be,” government secretary Moahloli Mphaka said yesterday. “I believe quick action will be taken,” he added.
SADC deployed more than 100 police officers to protect Thabane and other government officials after an attempted coup on August 30, which forced the prime minister to briefly flee to South Africa.
“The handling of this issue could be a recipe for disaster,” Mphaka said. “This is not meant to harm the integrity of those officers, but to protect the integrity of the SADC observer mission.”
Mphaka refused to give details of the specific allegations against the two officers, but another senior government official said the two commanders were accused of conspiring with Thabane’s rivals to sabotage the mission.
“SADC itself is doing an excellent job here, but we don’t want it to be frustrated by undue influences,” the official said.
A third top-ranking official, Thesele Maseribane, a leader in the government’s tripartite coalition, said he believed his movements were being leaked by SADC to elements of the Lesotho Defence Force.
“The issue of security is an ongoing process,” he said.
SADC head of mission in Lesotho Fannie Phakola said his office had received the letter, but declined to comment.
Ronnie Mamoepa, spokesman for Ramaphosa, also declined comment on the issue. – Sapa-AFP