Thabane asks SADC to send troops into Lesotho

Lesotho’s exiled prime minister on Monday called on the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to send peacekeeping troops to his country, after claiming that the army had seized power in a coup.

At crisis talks in Pretoria, Prime Minister Thomas Thabane called on the 15-nation SADC to send troops in, warning that the “situation is out of hand”, his aide told Agence France-Presse.

“You can no longer say you can only send a mission. You need an intervention of soldiers,” said Samonyane Ntsekele. 

The military on Saturday launched a deadly attack on police installations and Thabane’s residence. Since then it has been unclear who is running the country. The military has largely returned to barracks, denying a coup and claiming that soldiers were conducting a security operation against police who intended to arm “political fanatics”.

Acting prime minister
In his absence, a political rival told AFP on Monday that he had now taken over as acting prime minister of the tiny mountain kingdom. “I am acting prime minister,” public service minister Motloheloa Phooko said, citing “cabinet protocol” for his temporary appointment. 

Phooko is a member of the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD), which is part of an acrimonious coalition government with Thabane. The LCD has been accused of being in league with the military to oust Thabane, a charge both the party and the military brass deny.

LCD leader and Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing has denied any role in the operation and is currently at the talks in Pretoria. Phooko said he would issue a statement to the nation later on Monday, describing the political situation as “fluid”. A mass LCD demonstration planned for Monday has been cancelled at the request of the military and the police. 

Military control
While traffic returned to the streets of Maseru, people remained nervous that splits in the army could prompt further violence. When asked who is in charge of the military, acting Prime Minister Phooko said “that is a difficult question”. 

Intelligence sources have claimed that Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli orchestrated the coup when the prime minister removed him from his post and moved to appoint new prosecutors to investigate the deputy prime minister. 

Kamoli was to be replaced by Lieutenant General Maaparankoe Mahao, who fled the country on Saturday after a pre-dawn assassination attempt. Speaking in Pretoria, Mahao told AFP that Kamoli had become a “renegade general”. 

“On the ground, we have a situation that we have a renegade general who is refusing to step down,” he said. “There are a number of criminal acts conducted by sections under his command. He is afraid that when he is removed from office, the forces of justice will come into effect.” 

Mahao claimed that soldiers had also sought to seize police files relating to the deputy prime minister, the LCD’s Metsing. “The deputy prime minister is implicated in corruption charges. He is under investigation for that.”

“Attempted mediation in Maseru by Lesotho’s King collapsed over Kamoli’s participation,” according to Anglican Archbishop of Lesotho Adam Taaso. “It’s difficult; even if we negotiate we might ourselves negotiating with a person with no locus standi,” he said. 

Solution to crisis
South Africa, which encircles Lesotho and has often had a decisive hand in the country’s politics, was also trying to broker a “road map” out of the crisis. Top diplomats from the SADC meeting in Pretoria extended talks with leaders of the three ruling parties into a second day on Monday.

Key among the LCD’s demands are the re-opening of Parliament, which the prime minister suspended over fears of the apparent coup. United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon expressed concern about the “military takeover” and called for respect for “democratic rule” ahead of the talks, according to his spokesman. – Sapa-AP

Advertisting

De Klerk now admits apartheid was a crime against humanity

Apartheid’s last president walks back comments that definition was a Soviet plot

February 11 1990: Mandela’s media conquest

Nelson Mandela’s release from prison was also South Africa’s first ‘media event’. And, despite the NP’s, and the SABC’s, attempt to control the narrative, the force of Madiba’s personality meant that he emerged as a celebrity

Eastern Cape MEC orders graft investigation after two workers killed...

The killing of two council workers at the Amathole district municipality appears to be linked to tender fraud and corruption

Strike-off case pulls in judge

Judge Mushtak Parker is implicated in an application to strike off his former partners. He is also involved in the fight between the Western Cape high court’s judge president and his deputy
Advertising

Press Releases

Response to the report of the independent assessors

VUT welcomes the publishing of the report of the independent assessors to investigate concerns of poor governance, leadership, management, corruption and fraud at the university.

NWU student receives international award

Carol-Mari Schulz received the Bachelor of Health Sciences in Occupational Hygiene Top Achiever Award.

Academic programme resumes at all campuses

Lectures, practicals, seminars and tutorials will all resume today as per specific academic timetables.

Strategic social investments are a catalyst for social progress

Barloworld Mbewu enables beneficiaries to move away from dependence on grant funding

We all have a part to play to make South Africa work

Powering societal progress demands partnerships between all stakeholders

So you want to be a social entrepreneur?

Do the research first; it will save money and time later

Social entrepreneurship means business

Enterprises with a cause at their core might be exactly what our economy desperately needs

Looking inwards

Businesses are finding tangible ways to give back – but only because consumers demand it