The Southern African Development Community is meeting with leaders of Lesotho to resolve the political stalemate that led to the alleged coup attempt to overthrow Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s coalition government over the weekend, according to SADC executive secretary Stergomena Lawrence Tax.
Tax says calm appears to have returned to Lesotho after gun shots were heard when military police surrounded government buildings during an alleged coup attempt Saturday in the capital, Maseru.
“We have intervened by encouraging the leaders to resolve their differences in a democratic manner. We are encouraging them to ensure that everything goes back to normal and that is happening. The situation has normalized now,” said Tax.
Analysts say political tension has been simmering, following sharp disagreements within the coalition government, after Mr. Thabane suspended parliament apparently to avoid a vote of no confidence.
“Our position is that whatever is happening there should be resolved amicably,” said Tax. “What happened is an unfortunate situation. But what we are doing now is to bring the leaders together.”
She said the political disagreement and subsequent tension stems from the country’s coalition government - a first since the country gained independence from former colonial power, Britain in 1966.
“Lesotho is in a coalition government for the first time where three parties came together and formed a coalition government. So, agreeing on a number of issues is always a challenge when you are in a coalition government and that has been the major issues which are needed to be addressed,” said Tax.
Tax said SADC has been involved in a bid to resolve the political disagreement in Lesotho’s coalition government.
She said SADC’s former chief mediator, President Hifikepunye Pohamba, met leaders of Lesotho during the past several months to resolve the political tension, which led to the alleged coup attempt to overthrow the coalition government.
“We have been dealing with the matter for about three months now when we started mediating the situation through the former chair of the organ, President Hifikepunye Pohamba,” said Tax.
She said the leaders agreed on a number of proposals about three months ago that were aimed at reducing tension and resolving the stalemate. But Tax called for the leaders to expedite efforts to resolve any disagreement through constitutional means.