Moleleki calls for US in­ter­ven­tion

Lesotho Times - - News - Lekhetho Nt­sukun­yane

OP­PO­SI­TION Alliance of Democrats (AD) leader, Monyane Moleleki has ap­pealed to the United States gov­ern­ment to in­ter­vene at the “ap­pro­pri­ate level” to en­sure peace and democ­racy pre­vail in Le­sotho.

Mr Moleleki’s ap­peal was con­tained in a re­cent letter to the US Am­bas­sador, Mathew Harrington where he noted that among other things, the re­cent acts of “ha­rass­ments, ar­rests, kid­nap­pings, and tor­ture and death threats” against prom­i­nent op­po­si­tion mem­bers had the po­ten­tial “to de­rail the ex­ist­ing frag­ile peace and sta­bil­ity as well as the con­sol­i­da­tion of democ­racy in our coun­try”.

In the letter dated 20 Jan­uary 2017, which was seen by the Le­sotho Times, Mr Moleleki listed a se­ries of “se­ri­ous con­cerns” that in­clude the “un­pro­ce­du­ral” clo­sure of par­lia­ment by the seven par­ties’ coali­tion gov­ern­ment led by Pakalitha Mo­sisili to avoid a loom­ing vote of no con­fi­dence. The letter is also copied to Dr Mo­sisili.

“I write to share with Your Ex­cel­lency our se­ri­ous con­cerns re­gard­ing the lat­est de­vel­op­ment in Le­sotho which have a po­ten­tial to de­rail the ex­ist­ing frag­ile peace and sta­bil­ity as well as the con­sol­i­da­tion of democ­racy in our coun­try,” Mr Moleleki wrote in the letter.

“I bring these devel­op­ments to the at­ten­tion of Your Ex­cel­lency for your in­for­ma­tion, but also with a re­quest that you kindly in­form the rel­e­vant au­thor­i­ties of the United States of Amer­ica so that they may in­ter­vene at the ap­pro­pri­ate level in de­fence of peace and democ­racy in our coun­try,” Mr Moleleki stated.

Mr Moleleki said to­wards the end of 2016, the Le­sotho gov­ern­ment was rocked by al­le­ga­tions of wide­spread cor­rup­tion in high places “which gave rise to the cred­i­ble pos­si­bil­ity of a change of gov­ern­ment through a par­lia­men­tary vote of no con­fi­dence.”

He said in­ter­nal dif­fer­ences aris­ing par­tic­u­larly from the is­sue of cor­rup­tion led to a split of the Demo­cratic Congress (DC) which is the main part­ner in the coali­tion gov­ern­ment.

The split re­sulted in the for­ma­tion of the AD which was joined by 12 mem­bers of par­lia­ment who are con­stituency based as well as an­other nine pro­por­tional rep­re­sen­ta­tion leg­is­la­tors.

He said this left the coali­tion gov­ern­ment with only 42 seats which con­sti­tutes only 35per­cent of the to­tal seats in par­lia­ment- a fig­ure way be­low the thresh­old of 61 seats that are re­quired to gov­ern, “and the gov­ern­ment is fully aware of it”.

This de­vel­op­ment, ac­cord­ing to Mr Moleleki, has led the gov­ern­ment to re­sort to “a frenzy of ar­bi­trary and un­demo­cratic mea­sures and tricks de­signed to per­pet­u­ate it­self in power for as long as pos­si­ble”.

He said some of the mea­sures in­cluded the disin­gen­u­ous move of hav­ing the speaker of the Na­tional Assem­bly, Ntl­hoi Mot­samai in­def­i­nitely ad­journ par­lia­ment on 22 Novem­ber 2016, “con­trary to the nor­mal pro­ce­dure”.

“The ad­journ­ment of the Na­tional Assem­bly…was highly un­demo­cratic be­cause it

de­nied the rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the peo­ple the op­por­tu­nity to de­lib­er­ate on a con­sti­tu­tional mat­ter of sig­nif­i­cant im­por­tance to the na­tion,” Mr Moleleki stated, adding, “We are now be­ing in­formed be­lat­edly that the date of 24 Fe­bru­ary 2017 has been set for the re­open­ing of the Na­tional Assem­bly”.

He said in ad­di­tion, the gov­ern­ment had re­sorted to sub­ject­ing of­fi­cials of op­po­si­tion par­ties to con­stant ar­rests, kid­nap­ping and tor­ture.

“Of­fi­cials of the AD in par­tic­u­lar bear the brunt of these fre­quent ar­rests, ha­rass­ment and death threats.

“The re­cent ex­am­ple is the in­ci­dent in­volv­ing the pres­i­dent of the AD youth league, Thuso Litjobo who was ar­rested and de­tained by the po­lice in a man­ner that was far from con­sis­tent with his ba­sic hu­man rights. The case was so flimsy and base­less that even the gov­ern­ment it­self was not ready to de­fend it in the courts of law,” Mr Moleleki stated.

He also cited the “fre­quent” ar­rest of Ba­sotho Na­tional Party (BNP) spokesper­son, Mach­esetsa Mo­fo­mobe as well as the man­han­dling of of­fi­cials of the op­po­si­tion par­ties by the se­cu­rity agen­cies.

He said all this was clearly in­tended to cre­ate an en­vi­ron­ment of chaos and in­sta­bil­ity which could be used as an ex­cuse by gov­ern­ment to de­fer elec­tions and to pro­long it­self in power against the will of the ma­jor­ity of the peo­ple.

“We are deeply con­cerned that the ploy by the coali­tion gov­ern­ment to cre­ate a sit­u­a­tion of in­sta­bil­ity in the coun­try is also in­tended to de­ter the re­turn of the three ex­iled op­po­si­tion lead­ers.

“This is hap­pen­ing at a time when the se­cu­rity and po­lit­i­cal cli­mate in Le­sotho was im­prov­ing con­sid­er­ably and prepa­ra­tions for the re­turn of the po­lit­i­cal lead­ers in ex­ile are at a very ad­vanced stage.”

The three lead­ers, Thomas Tha­bane of the All Ba­sotho Con­ven­tion (ABC), Th­e­sele ’Maserib­ane (BNP) and the Re­formed Congress of Le­sotho’s (RCL) Keketso Ran­tšo are ex­pected to re­turn any­time from ex­ile in South Africa where they fled in 2015, cit­ing plots to as­sas­si­nate them by mem­bers of the Le­sotho De­fence Force (LDF)- an ac­cu­sa­tion the lat­ter has ve­he­mently de­nied.

Mr Moleleki said the ha­rass­ment of his party’s of­fi­cials was also cal­cu­lated at in­tim­i­dat­ing him, “with the hope that I will de­cide to leave Le­sotho to take refuge in ex­ile”.

Mr Moleleki said Dr Mo­sisili was aware that he no longer com­manded the sup­port of the ma­jor­ity of leg­is­la­tors in terms of sec­tion 87 of the con­sti­tu­tion and was now threat­en­ing to dis­solve par­lia­ment and call for gen­eral elec­tions very soon.

“The hold­ing of elec­tions only two years af­ter the last elec­tion is, how­ever, to­tally un­nec­es­sary as the con­sti­tu­tion al­lows for a new prime min­is­ter to be elected from within par­lia­ment by the ma­jor­ity of the mem­bers of the house with­out re­sort­ing to elec­tions.

“Elec­tions are a very ex­pen­sive ex­er­cise. Le­sotho, with its frag­ile econ­omy, can ill-af­ford to hold elec­tions ev­ery two years!

“The call by the in­cum­bent prime min­is­ter for elec­tions is merely an ar­ro­gant and ego­cen­tric move that has no bear­ing to the in­ter­ests of Ba­sotho and the ca­pac­ity of our coun­try to hold such elec­tions at this mo­ment in time,” Mr Moleleki stated.

He said Dr Mo­sisili’s strat­egy was how­ever, “ex­tremely dan­ger­ous in that it re­verses the progress that had al­ready been made in the con­sol­i­da­tion of democ­racy, peace and sta­bil­ity in the coun­try.”

The AD leader yes­ter­day con­firmed to the Le­sotho Times that he wrote the letter.

The Prime Min­is­ter’s Press At­taché, Mo­tumi Rale­joe re­ferred all ques­tions to the Prime Min­is­ter’s Se­nior Pri­vate Sec­re­tary, Mamello Mor­ri­son who was un­reach­able on her mo­bile phone last night.

For his part, the US Em­bassy Me­dia Af­fairs of­fi­cer, Seisa Tši­ame said he was not in a po­si­tion to re­spond to “pri­vate com­mu­ni­ca­tion” in­volv­ing the am­bas­sador.

US Am­bas­sador to Le­sotho Mathew Har­ring­ton.

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