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Lesotho Political Tension ‘Still High’

  • Peter Clottey

Army personnel man outside the military headquarters in Maseru, Lesotho, Aug. 31, 2014.

Army personnel man outside the military headquarters in Maseru, Lesotho, Aug. 31, 2014.

The chief whip of Lesotho’s Senate expressed concern that tension in the country could get worse after some parliamentarians demanded the removal of a constitutional measure that empowers the prime minister to suspend parliament.

Khoabane Theko said the demands could derail last month’s agreement signed by the country’s leaders to end political tension that led to an alleged attempt to overthrow Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s coalition government.

“It brings a lot of confusion to people and of course it makes the situation to remain very combustible, [and] you really do not know what is going to happen tomorrow,” said Theko. “These gentlemen are just being used maybe to test the power of the people on the other side [of government]… So that has really brought some uneasiness in our political fraternity.”

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 blamed for the mountain kingdom’s insecurity and instability.

The agreement paves the way for fresh elections to be held next year. But Theko said it appears some politicians are displeased with the agreement in the run up to the elections.

“The issue of elections has really not come down home to most of the people and they are not comfortable with it. So they are trying to dilly-dally or maybe cause the whole agreement to collapse. We don’t know what they are looking at after it has totally collapsed,” said Theko.

A separate security accord also brokered by Mr. Ramaphosa that included the police and the army generals called for some senior officials within the security organizations to go on vacation in a bid to end the country’s insecurity.

This came after Prime Minster Thabane replaced former army Chief Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli with Lieutenant General Maaparankoe Mahao as head of the Lesotho Defense Force. Kamoli has so far refused to step down and peacefully hand over power to his replacement.

Theko, who also is a traditional Lesotho chief, said Basotho--as the citizens of Botswana are called - don’t feel safe after the renegade army general refused to adhere to stipulations in the security agreement.

“There was another security accord that was signed by all the generals; the police and the army, but he is refusing now to comply. It looks like he doesn’t want to go on this leave that they were supposed to go to,” said Theko.

He said Mr. Ramaphosa has been in the country for the last few days in a bid to ensure the security agreement is respected. Theko expressed hope that the South Africa’s deputy president’s bid would help ease tension and fear among the population after he returns home.