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Zuma brokers peace between factions in Lesotho
September 10, 2014, 5:52 am

President Zuma accompanied by Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Maite Nkoana-Mashabane is introduced to the Basotho delegation by Lesotho Prime Minister Thabane in Masero on 9September 2014 [GCIS]

President Zuma accompanied by Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Maite Nkoana-Mashabane is introduced to the Basotho delegation by Lesotho Prime Minister Thabane in Maseru on 9September 2014 [GCIS]

In an effort to end a political crisis in the mountain kingdom, South African President Jacob has brokered peace between warring factions in Lesotho on Tuesday including extracting a vow to reopen the country’s parliament soon.

Zuma arrived in Maseru, the capital of Lesotho on Tuesday afternoon.

Lesotho’s Prime Minister Thomas Thabane had earlier fled to South Africa following an apparent bid by the military to oust him.

Zuma held discussions with the political leadership and King Letsie III to assess the progress in the implementation of the Windhoek Declaration, as well as other decisions made by the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

“We’re just about to get there,” said Thabane after talks with Zuma on Tuesday.

South Africa had sent in military troops to Lesotho during an earlier political stand-off and subsequent fighting in 1998.

Zuma, current Chair of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defense and Security, has been facilitating a political solution to the crisis but has refused to deploy troops to the country yet.

Zuma’s visit follows the Ministerial Committee of the SADC Organ meeting on August 31 as well as his meeting with the Lesotho coalition leaders on September 1 in Pretoria.

“The visit by President Zuma demonstrates a clear commitment by SADC to assist the coalition leaders to implement the Windhoek Declaration, as well as to assist the kingdom to restore peace and stability,” said a statement from the South African Presidency.

The South African government reportedly has been involved in Lesotho’s political meltdown since August 30 when a military coup sent Lesotho’s Prime Minister Thomas Thabane fleeing to South Africa.

But Thabane returned home last Monday following intervention by the SADC, with South Africa playing a leading role.

On August 30, the Lesotho military seized the police headquarters and the Mabote police station in Maseru, claiming that police officers intended to pass arms and ammunition to Thabane’s All Basotho convention called “Under the Tree” (UTTA).

Police are loyal to Thabane, while the military support his deputy Mothetjoa Metsing.

The army also raided the residence of Thabane, who had fled to South Africa hours before the coup.

The SADC intervened and brought leaders in the coalition government to an agreement which allowed Thabane to return home to re-open parliament.

Thabane had dissolved the country’s parliament in June to avoid a vote of no- confidence.

After returning home following the coup, Thabane pledged to re- open parliament on September 19.

But Thabane insists that his decision to remove Army Commander General, Tlali Kamoli would not be changed. The decision had triggered the military coup in the mountain kingdom over the weekend.

Thabane on Monday postponed the re-opening of parliament, saying because he wanted to ascertain who is in charge of the country’s army.

Although Thabane dismissed Kamoli and replaced him with Maaparankoe Mahao, army spokesperson Major Ntele Ntoli said Kamoli is still in charge.

Ntoli dismissed reports that Kamoli has looted weapons and fled with a group of soldiers to the mountains in preparation for war against the government.

Lesotho is completely surrounded by South Africa and is a major supplier of water and hydropower to its African neighbour.

 

Source: Agencies

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