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Lesotho: Exiled Opposition Wants SADC Intervention

FILE - Lesotho's Ex-Prime Minister Thomas Thabane attends European Union-Africa summit in Brussels, April 2, 2014.
FILE - Lesotho's Ex-Prime Minister Thomas Thabane attends European Union-Africa summit in Brussels, April 2, 2014.

Lesotho’s former Prime Minister Thomas Thabane and parliamentarian Thesele Maseribane, among others, have fled to neighboring South Africa after citing a plot to assassinate them.

Last week, Thabane held talks with Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili in South Africa where he stated conditions under which he will return home, according to Maseribane. They include an investigation by the Southern African Development Community into administration charges against him and allegations that he is targeted to be killed.

Maseribane, who is a former Minister of Gender and Youth, Sports and Recreation under Thabane’s government, said he fled the country following reports he was on a hit list. The threat followed accusations that he was plotting to overthrow the new administration. He denies the charge.

He said members of the previous government are being targeted for fighting corruption.

But the government has sharply denied the accusations. Defense Minister Tšeliso Mokhosi challenged the exiled leaders to provide proof of their claims.

Maseribane said he teamed up with the former prime minister to request a fact finding mission from the Southern African Development Community (SADC). It would investigate the accusations against them and the alleged plot to assassinate them. He says the country faces security challenges that have not been resolved.

“We went to elections with not so good security and this is the outcome after elections — that security has lapsed," said Maseribane. "We have lost one of the most high-ranking officers, Lieutenant Colonel Maaparankoe Mahao, who was shot in broad day light. This is the situation, and we are now having a commission led by a judge from Botswana as a follow up on the report of the [SADC] fact finding mission.”

Supporters of the government say the exiled leaders fled after failing to account for their stewardship while in government. They deny that there is any plot to kill administration opponents. They said the former prime minister and his colleagues should return to account for their leadership.

Maseribane disagreed, saying he was warned to leave the country.

“There was a hit list that was produced by the Lesotho Defense Force [LDF] members that implicated myself and the former prime minister and the deceased Mahao," Maseribane said. "At the time I fled, I was advised by LDF members that I should leave the country because the Lesotho Defense command is saying I am part of the planning of the mutiny — and that Lesotho Defense Force members are going to arrest me.

“People are being killed …There are so many things happening in the country that I cannot even remember them all, just because we fought corruption," he added. "There are high places of corruption and we stood firm [regarding] zero tolerance because of the small economy we have as a country.”

Maseribane said he is willing to go to an impartial court to clear his name of the allegations made against him. Maseribane however said he would need assurances of protection from the government before returning to Lesotho to defend himself against any charges.

“SADC must come out of with a resolution with facts on the table, not implications [without] evidence," Maseribane said. "The commission must be given an opportunity to do an inquest.”

Meanwhile, regional leaders from SADC plan to meet next week. High on the agenda will be discussions on the situation in Lesotho.

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