Lesotho’s Parliament reopens after coup crisis

Opposition parliamentarians celebrated with song and dance on the floor of the legislature as the chamber sat for the first time in four months.

Prime Minister Tom Thabane had suspended the body in June fearing a vote of no-confidence that could have booted him from power.

The re-opening of Parliament is a key first step in a peace deal following an August 30 coup attempt and will lead to early elections in February 2015.

The king, who is constitutionally restricted to a ceremonial role, thanked the international community – and particularly the 15-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC) – for helping to defuse the crisis.

“On behalf of the Basotho nation, I would like to express … our deep-rooted gratitude for expeditiously coming to our assistance at this critical moment in our political journey,” King Letsie told the 120-member chamber, as the SADC mediator, South African Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, looked on.

As the king filed out, followed by Thabane, his feisty opponents, led by former prime minister Pakalitha Mosisili, then filled the floor, singing and swaying.

“Democracy begins again,” said one parliamentarian, Kotiti Diholo of the Democratic Congress. “There was no longer democracy in this country but now we can get back to representing our people.”

Peace deal
On August 30 Thabane fled the tiny kingdom, entirely surrounded by South Africa, hours before the military attacked police installations, in what was seen as part of an orchestrated putsch.

Just hours earlier he had fired Lesotho Defence Force Commander Lieutenant-General Tlali Kamoli who still refuses to relinquish his command.

Thabane returned accompanied by SADC police and officials, who have since hammered out a peace deal among Lesotho’s sparring factions.

Crucially, the opposition have agreed not to mount a no-confidence vote against Thabane while this Parliament is in session.

Instead, they allowed the parliament to re-open and to pass a budget, then officially dissolve in order for the country to prepare for early elections.

But in a sign of on-going instability, officials cancelled the military parade that traditionally opens Parliament.

Armed forces
That also dodges the difficult question of who is in charge of the armed forces.

While Kamoli refuses to step down, his replacement has required South African police guards after an attempt on his life was made during the coup.

Having avoided a vote of no-confidence, Thabane now faces an election which could have the same effect and see him lose office.

The Democratic Congress is already the single-largest party in Parliament and has an agreement to join forces with the party of Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing – which is part of Thabane’s coalition government.

But their dancing did not impress Lesotho’s Minister of Home Affairs, Joang Molapo.

“This is false bravado,” he said. “They always make a lot of noise. But we on the other side know how the deck is stacked.

“And we know that the Basotho people recognise who has been the destabilising element in this country.”

Molapo suggested the root cause of the crisis has been corruption – and resistance to Thabane’s crusade to expose it during the two years since he created one of Africa’s rare coalition governments.

Metsing is now accused of both corruption and involvement in the recent coup attempt. – Sapa-AFP

Advertisting

Mabuza’s ‘distant relative’ scored big

Eskom’s woes are often because of boiler problems at its power plants. R50-billion has been set aside to fix them, but some of the contracts are going to questionable entities

ANC faction gunning for Gordhan

The ambush will take place at an NEC meeting about Eskom. But the real target is Cyril Ramaphosa

What the law could clarify this year

Lawfare: Major developments are on the cards where law and politics meet, including the first amendment to South Africa’s Bill of Rights

The secret ‘Warmonger’ at the SSA

A listening device acquired by the agency is at the centre of an alleged R600-million fraud operation
Advertising

Press Releases

New-style star accretion bursts dazzle astronomers

Associate Professor James O Chibueze and Dr SP van den Heever are part of an international team of astronomers studying the G358-MM1 high-mass protostar.

2020 risk outlook: Use GRC to build resilience

GRC activities can be used profitably to develop an integrated risk picture and response, says ContinuitySA.

MTN voted best mobile network

An independent report found MTN to be the best mobile network in SA in the fourth quarter of 2019.

Is your tertiary institution is accredited?

Rosebank College is an educational brand of The Independent Institute of Education, which is registered with the Department of Higher Education and Training.

Is your tertiary institution accredited?

Rosebank College is an educational brand of The Independent Institute of Education, which is registered with the Department of Higher Education and Training.

VUT chancellor, Dr Xolani Mkhwanazi, dies

The university conferred the degree of Doctor of Science Honoris Causa on Dr Xolani Mkhwanazi for his outstanding leadership contributions to maths and science education development.

Innovate4AMR now in second year

SA's Team pill-Alert aims to tackle antimicrobial resistance by implementing their strategic intervention that ensures patients comply with treatment.

Medical students present solution in Geneva

Kapil Narain and Mohamed Hoosen Suleman were selected to present their strategic intervention to tackle antimicrobial resistance to an international panel of experts.