Lesotho Coup Condemned by the Commonwealth and the SADC

By Oliver Ngwenya    31-Aug-2014 17:05 UTC+02:00
Lesotho Prime Minister Thomas Thabane: "I won't go to Lesotho to get killed." Image: Mewsrescue.com

Lesotho Prime Minister Thomas Thabane: “I won’t go to Lesotho to get killed.” Image: News Rescue.

It emerged on Saturday that there has been a coup in the mountainous kingdom of Lesotho, apparently staged by the country’s national army. According to the standing Prime Minister Thomas Thabane, who has fled his country into neighboring South Africa, there was a clear attempt by the army to stage a coup de’tat, adding that his government was taking clear steps to nip it all in the bud.

Prime Minister Thomas Thabane, speaking from his daughter’s home in South Africa, added that the matter had been reported to the SADC, which was busy dealing with it. Prime Minister Thabane who has, for two years led a coalition government, revealed that he has fired the commander of the Lesotho Defence Forces, Lieutenant-General Kennedy Tlali Kamoli and replaced him with Brigadier Maaparankoe Mahao. He went on to rubbish claims by the Lesotho Defense Forces spokesman that Kamoli was still in charge, saying that it did not make sense for the army to say who was or was not in charge as the commander’s position was a government appointment. Despite not specifying when, he stated that he would be returning to his country of just over two million people which he had left because he was no longer feeling safe.

Lesotho Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa-Metsing enjoys army support and is likely to benefit if coup is successful. Image: Lesotho Times.

Lesotho Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa-Metsing enjoys army support and is likely to benefit if coup is successful. Image: Lesotho Times.

Reports emerging from this mountainous kingdom both from individuals and diplomats say that shots were fired briefly in the morning in Maseru, which is the capital of the country amid reports that the army had moved into police headquarters. There were further unconfirmed reports that the army had also surrounded the prime minister’s residence in the capital. However, hours later, the capital was reported to be quiet despite the fact that it was still not clear who was running government at the time. This apparently follows a move by Prime Minister Thomas Thabane who, in June this year, took the decision to dissolve parliament after he learnt that a vote of no confidence was being planned against his government. Diplomatic sources in Maseru further confirmed that the Deputy Prime Minister, Mothetjoa Metsing has the support of the Army while Thabane enjoys the support of the police. Metsing is said to have vowed to get rid of Thabane in order to form a new coalition government.

The foreign ministry spokesman for neighboring South Africa, Clayson Monyela condemned the military action in Lesotho and urged the army commander to order his troops to move back to their barracks. Monyela, who also spoke on behalf of the SADC, added that the action of the army, which had all the hallmarks of a coup de’tat, was unacceptable within the SADC, adding that the leaders in Lesotho should settle their differences peacefully. Adding its political weight to the conflict, the Commonwealth, a grouping of nations which are former British colonies, said that the group had “zero tolerance in the Commonwealth of any unconstitutional overthrow of an elected government”. This was said in a statement sent to Reuters early on Saturday by the organisation’s Secretary General, Kamaleshi Sharma. The United States Department also issued a statement which condemned this state of affairs, which it said was violent without classifying it as a coup de’tat.

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