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Lesotho PM Thabane to Seek Re-Election Next Year

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 Prime Minister Thomas Thabane says he will seek re-election next year after signing an agreement with rival political parties.

In an interview with VOA, Thabane said he is prepared to fight for every vote in the election to seek a new mandate.

Political parties in Lesotho’s coalition government and other political groupings that have registered with the electoral commission signed the “Maseru Facilitation Declaration” agreement last Thursday.

South African Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa backed by regional bloc, the Southern African Development Community (SADC), spearheaded mediation efforts that led to the accord. The agreement is aimed at ending the political tension and the subsequent security challenges the country faces.

Thabane said the agreement paves the way for the political parties to seek a new mandate from citizens in a general election next year.

“There has been an agreement that to solve the little crisis we had here, we should go back to the people through an election. An election date has been set for end of January next year, and I will certainly be running in my constituency,” said Thabane.

Constitutional amendment

Some Basotho - as citizens of the kingdom are called - have called for a constitutional amendment to address any future disagreements in a coalition government. They blame the country’s political crisis on disagreements between Prime Minister Thabane and Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing.

Thabane said he is amendable to amending the constitution to resolve any future political stalemate.

“There are certain amendments that would certainly improve matters and if we indeed engage in that kind of exercise that would be fine,” said Thabane.

“Because we are now going to have parliament and parliament we will be reopening parliament to simply address issues related to the election itself. And I’m sure that people had it in their mind to look at the electoral law and other things and got some amendments made, I think there would be no problem,” he added.

Security challenges

South Africa’s Deputy President Ramaphosa plans to next week meet Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli, a former commander of Lesotho's army, who is accused of attempting to overthrow the coalition government. He is also suspected of having stolen weapons from Lesotho armory. He denies both charges.

Some Basotho say the country's security agencies are divided - with the police supporting Prime Minister Thabane and the army supporting Deputy Prime Minister Metsing.

Thabane says the army is to blame for the security crisis.

“The police are disciplined and the army has disciplinary challenges, particularly at the top, but the rest of the army is fine. But, the top there are challenges particularly the command,” said Thabane. “An agreement is going to be reached to shuffle that command and the army will be OK.”

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