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Lesotho Parliament Set to Open on Friday

  • Peter Clottey

FILE - Thomas Motsoahae Thabane, prime minister of Lesotho, addresses the 68th United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, Sept. 26, 2013.

FILE - Thomas Motsoahae Thabane, prime minister of Lesotho, addresses the 68th United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, Sept. 26, 2013.

Lesotho’s parliament is scheduled to re-open on Friday in an effort to end the sharp political disagreement that led to the alleged attempt to overthrow Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s coalition government.

Mediated by South Africa’s deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, the political parties that are officially registered with the Electoral Commission signed an agreement to end the political stalemate, which has been blamed for the mountain kingdom’s insecurity and instability.

Parliamentary wrangling

Thabane was accused by rivals in the government of a power grab after he suspended parliament - allegedly to avoid of vote of no-confidence. Thabane denies the accusation.

Some Basotho - as citizens of Lesotho are called - say the opening of parliament could begin to restore some confidence in the country’s democratic process following the breakdown of the government.

Khoabane Theko, Chief Whip of Lesotho’s senate, said the opening of parliament will enable Basotho to choose new leaders in next year’s general election.

“This is what we can call maybe the beginning of the process that takes us to the elections, because we are going to have a budget and maybe deliberate other laws … ahead of our elections from here on,” said Theko.

Theko said reaction about the opening of parliament has been mixed.

“It’s a mixture of attitudes of people who are saying maybe there is going to be a sort of a fracas during the opening. Others are very optimistic, nothing will be happening, just because they have seen the content of the agreement of all the political parties,” said Theko.

Tension

Theko, who also is a traditional chief, said royals in the kingdom have called on Ramaphosa to help resolve the country’s insecurity following the refusal of former army Chief Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli to peacefully step down and hand over power to a successor after he was dismissed by the prime minister.

Thabane replaced him with Lieutenant General Maaparankoe Mahao as head of the Lesotho Defense Force.

“That’s a very precarious situation that we are in right now, because Kamoli is being supported by the people in the opposition and another faction that is in government … they think that if [Kamoli] goes maybe they will be vulnerable against the incumbent prime minister. We don’t know why because he hasn’t got an army on his side at all, but this is the position we are having,” said Theko.

“In our discussion with the facilitator as traditional leaders and chiefs in Lesotho, we tried to express and impress on the deputy president of South Africa, Mr. Ramaphosa, that he cannot leave the negotiation toward the leaving of this army guy without resolving it, because it is a very important aspect of how we are going into elections,” said Theko.


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