Ex­pel two SA of­fi­cers from mis­sion – Le­sotho

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS -

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

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