GIVE MONARCHY CONTROL OF THE ARMY – SADC DEFENCE
Pretoria, South Africa –If SADC Defence chiefs would have their way, Lesotho’s monarchy would assume the position of Commanderin-Chief of the Lesotho National Defence Force.
This, it is believed, would provide a leader in matters to do with the security forces that are seen to be at loggerheads and the cause of conflict in the kingdom.
It is one of several recommendations put to SADC leaders by the Extra Ordinary meeting of Defence SubCommittee (DSC) held on September 12-13, 2017.
It was noted by the urgent Double Troika Summit convened by SADC Chairperson President Jacob Zuma of South Africa yesterday, which was attended by his Majesty King Mswati III.The King had left for South Africa early in the morning and returned in the country last night.
It was emphasised, however, that whatever changes are made to the Constitution, the process should be fully consultative so that the decisions are owned by the people of Lesotho.
His Majesty the King was among the leaders who further endorsed a preliminaryintervention in the volatile security situation in Lesotho.
The Double Troika was convened following the assassination of the Commander of the Lesotho National Defence Force Lt. General Khoantle Motsomotso on September 5, 2017, by senior army officials who were also gunned down in the process.
The Troika was informed that the General was killed for implementing SADC recommendations.
This is the second Army General to be killed following that of Lt. Gen. Maaparankoe Mahao on June 25, 2015.
Mahao’s killers are also linked to the latest killing of the army chief who was preparing to hand over all the suspects in the army to the police for prosecution. Among the decisions endorsed yesterday include sending an additional 34 member Oversight Committee to Lesotho for 30 days.
Defence Chiefs are also expected to visit Lesotho to determine the need and size of a SADC Standby Force of a Battalion strength, comprising the military, police and civilian components.
If all goes according to expectations, Lesotho will see an amendment to the national Constitution and other pieces of legislation in order to clarify the separation of powers of the police and the army.
It has also been recommended that these reforms should include among others, the empowerment of the Monarchy to be the Commander-inChief of the Lesotho Defence Force.
The leaders also approved the deployment of a contingency force comprising military security, intelligence and civilian experts to support the government of Lesotho in the following:
To strengthen peace and security, implement security sector reforms and implement recommendations of the SADC Commission of Enquiry;
Monitor and ensure that the rule of law is complied with in the process of implementing the Enquiry recommendations
Identify immediate areas of priority that are to be implemented urgently, including the specific amendments in the constitution, and amendments of the LDF and LMPS Acts with a view to ensuring separation of powers between the army and police;
To support Lesotho in undertaking retraining of its personally, especially in the area of Civil Military Relations (CIMIC);
Monitor and assist where necessary, in the investigation of the assassination of Lt. Gen. Motsomotso and other alleged killings in Lesotho;
To lend assistance in the implementation of constitutional, public and security sector reforms and monitor implementation of SADC decisions.
The Troika further directed the chiefs of defence and security to assess the requirements, determine the appropriate size of the contingent force and to prepare the modalities for the deployment by September 22, 2017, based on which the secretariat should facilitate an urgent deployment by November 1, 2017. In his opening remarks, Chairperson of Troika South African President Jacob Zuma, conveyed SADC’s condolences to the people of Lesotho and the deceased’s family and further condemned the killings in the strongest possible terms.
He applauded Lesotho’s commitment to the reforms recommended by SADC and assured the mountain Kingdom of the organs full support.
Lesotho Prime Minister Thomas Thabane, told the Double Troika that the prevailing situation was regrettable but emphasised that the Lesotho government was in full agreement with the recommendations proposed by SADC.
President Jose EduardoDos Santos of Angola was praised for his prompt deployment of a fact finding mission after the shootings.
The kingdom of Lesotho had recently been congratulated for a successful peaceful election that saw the current prime minister assume the position. This was seen as a return to normality following the strife that had engulfed the country which required SADC intervention.
With the current situation described as stable, there is great uncertainty over what lies ahead.
BAYETHE: His Majesty with SADC Executive Secretary Dr Lawrence Tax at the Double Troika Summit in Pretoria yesterday.