/ 15 March 2007

Lesotho opposition parties stage sit-in at Parliament

Leaders and MPs of five opposition parties in Lesotho’s 120-member Parliament started an indefinite sit-in at the Parliament buildings on Thursday.

They have called on their supporters and the Basotho nation at large to stay away from work from Monday next week.

The sit-in at the houses of Parliament was staged by the All Basotho Convention (ABC), Alliance of Congress Parties, Basotho National Party (BNP), National Independent Party (NIP) and Marematlou Freedom Party.

It came immediately after the head of state of Lesotho, King Letsie III, officially opened the first sitting of the seventh Parliament of Lesotho following last month’s general elections won by the ruling Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD), headed by Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili.

”Our decision to stage the sit-in and call for a stayaway from work from Monday next week is in support of the leader of the NIP, Mr Anthony Manyeli, following the refusal of the ruling LCD to honour the verdict of the High Court of Lesotho in the case involving a list of names of proportional representation MPS of his party,” said Tom Thabane, the leader of ABC.

The government of Lesotho has not reacted to the sit-in and the proposed stayaway from work.

But on Thursday morning the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Home Affairs, Lesao Lehohla, issued a stern warning over state-owned Radio Lesotho that the government, through the police, ”would not hesitate to take tough measures against anyone who may try to disrupt the opening of Parliament”.

Currently over 20 000 supporters of the five opposition political parties are surrounding Parliament buildings in the capital, Maseru, singing and chanting freedom songs.

There is a heavy military and police presence around the Parliament buildings and several roads leading to parliament have closed for traffic. — Sapa