SADC decision on Lesotho welcome
The decision by the Southern African Development Community to establish an Independent Commission of Inquiry into the death of former Lesotho Defence Forces Commander Brigadier Maarparankoe Mahao should enable the regional body to get to the bottom of the fresh security worries in the mountain kingdom.
Lesotho is once again facing security and political instability worries following the alleged killing of Brigadier Mahao in a shoot-out with members of the army.
The SADC Double Troika summit, which met in South Africa recently, also approved the establishment of an Oversight Committee to assess the political situation in Lesotho.
The committee will act as an “early warning mechanism” in the event of signs of instability, and intervene when appropriate in consultation with the SADC appointed facilitator, South African Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.
SADC’s decisions at the regional body’s Double Troika meeting in South Africa last week were informed by the fears that the death of Brigadier Mahao might plunge the mountain kingdom into a fresh political crisis.
It is also noteworthy that SADC recognises the need for the government and political stakeholders in Lesotho to urgently undertake constitutional and security sector reforms. They must do this with the assistance of SADC. This is because the security forces in Lesotho have long been a part of the problems that always trigger political crises in the country.
It is no secret that many of the political disputes in Lesotho have a link to the country’s army and in some instances other security forces such as the police.
We urge the stakeholders in Lesotho to be honest with each other and act with integrity in resolving their endless conflicts because they are a security threat to the entire region.
The Independent Commission of Inquiry and the Oversight Committee will require the full collaboration and cooperation of the government of the Kingdom of Lesotho to facilitate their work.
The SADC summit was also on point when urging the Double Troika to remain seized with the developments in Lesotho.
Security sector reforms are urgently needed in Lesotho because the country’s security forces are highly politicised and that does not bode well for a professional army as well as the stability of the country.
The mountainous kingdom, surrounded by South Africa, has a long history of political instability that dates back to its independence in 1966.
And in most of the conflicts that have erupted in Lesotho the army has been at the centre of great deal of the disputes.
Reports that Lesotho Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili is quoted saying after the summit that the terms of reference of the SADC Commission of Inquiry would include the question of whether the reappointment of current army commander General Tlali Kamoli to his position earlier this year was appropriate are also welcome.
Kamoli and Mahao, an ally of former Prime Minister Thomas Thabane, were bitter rivals and Deputy President Ramaphosa had brokered a security accord which stipulated that the two and the Police Commissioner, another ally of Thabane, should be removed from their positions to depoliticise the security forces and stabilise Lesotho’s political situation.
But Prime Minister Mosisili removed Mohao from his position and reappointed Kamoli as army chief after he won the February elections.