SADC deploys another mission to Lesotho

SADC has send a ministerial team to Lesotho to get first hand information on the apparent assassination of army commander Khoantle Motsomotso as well as the killing of two senior army officers by Motsomotso’s bodyguard. On Tuesday night, Lesotho’s recently elected Prime Minister, Thomas Thabane, assured Basotho as well as neighbouring countries that he was still in charge and that SADC would be looking into what happened and the reason behind it. “Investigations are in progress to find out exactly what happened, but I can assure you the nation and everybody else that the situation up to now is under control.

I am taking this opportunity to pass my condolences to affected families. SADC is fully engaged in this matter and we will have already reported to them, and i am sure they will respond,” said Thabane. Lesotho has been beset by power struggles and concerns about military interference in politics.

A CHRONOLOGY OF KEY EVENTS: ◆ 1824 -Lesotho is founded by the Basotho chief Moshoeshoe, as Basutoland, on a natural rock fortress called Mountain of the Night.

◆ 1834 – Territorial encroachment by Boer trekkers starts decades of conflict. ◆ 1835-1868 – Lesotho acts as a buffer between the Afrikaners’ and British colonial interests and supplies seasonal farm workers to both. It later becomes a British protectorate. ◆ 1871 – Annexed to the Cape Colony. ◆ 1884 – Becomes a British colony after revolt against Cape Colonial rule. Paramount chiefs retain large degree of autonomy.

◆ 1939-45 – World War II, with 20,000 Sotho serving in the British forces.

◆ 1950s – Political parties emerge, press for independence. ◆ 1963: Moshoeshoe II is crowned king.

◆ 1966 – October 4, the country gains independence as Kingdom of Lesotho, with Moshoeshoe II as king and Chief Leabua Jonathan (Basotho National Party) as prime minister.

◆ 1970 – Oppostion Basutoland Congress Party leads in polls but Chief Jonathan suspends constitution, sends king into temporary exile.

◆ 1986 – South Africa blocks borders, demanding expulsion of anti-apartheid activists. Major-General Justin Lekhanya replaces Chief Jonathan in coup. A project begins in Lesotho to divert freshwater from the mountains for electricity and for sale to South Africa. The project is sponsored by the World Bank, the European Investment Bank and the African Development Bank at a cost of $3.5 billion. The electricity proves too expensive for most people and the water diversion wreaked environmental havoc downstream. In 2003 the development fund raised from selling the water shuts down. Courts convicted 3 of the world’s largest construction firms on corruption charges.

◆ 1990 – King Moshoeshoe II goes into exile after a series of three military coups ousted him from the throne. His son is sworn in as Letsie III

. ◆ 1991 – General Lekhanya forced out by Colonel Elias Tutsoane Ramaema, who lifts ban on political activity. ◆ 1993 – Basutoland Congress Party comes to power in elections.

◆ 1994 – Fighting among rival army factions.

◆ -Letsie backs a palace coup to reinstate his father as king. He ousts the first government to be elected in a multiparty vote and temporarily assumes the throne. ◆ 1995 – January, Letsie gives up the crown to his returned father.

◆ 1996 – Moshoeshoe II is killed in a road accident and Letsie III is restored to the throne as king. ◆ 1997: In February, soldiers put down a police mutiny in Maseru after two hours of shooting.

◆ – June, protestors march against the formation of a new ruling party by Prime Minister Ntsu Mokhehle. Pakalitha Mosisili defects from the Basutoland Congress Party under leader Ntsu Mokhehle, to form the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) party.

◆ 1998- In September 21, opposition protestors clash with South African and Botswanan troops at the royal palace. A faction of the Lesotho army had rebelled 11 days earlier and deposed the new military leadership. They charged that the May elections swept by the Lesotho Congress of Democrats (LCD) party were rigged.

◆ 1998 – LCD wins general elections, Pakalitha Mosisili becomes prime minister. SADC sends troops to help restore order after opposition riots. ◆ 1998: September 22, South African troops pour over the border into Lesotho and 30 people are reported killed.

◆ 1998 – September 23, Nine South Africans and 40 rebels are killed since the SADC task force entered Lesotho to restore the government of PM Pakalitha Mosisili. Maseru is virtually destroyed by arson and looting that follows the military intervention. Damages are estimated at $39 million.

◆ 1999: April 9, Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili announces that South Africa and Botswana would soon pull their forces out of Lesotho following a seven month peacekeeping operation. ◆ 2002 June – PM Mosisili is sworn-in for a second five-year term.

◆ 2003 – September 7, Mamohato Bereng Seeiso (62), the queen mother of Lesotho, dies after collapsing in a church outside the capital.

◆ 2004 January. Widespread drought is reported across southern Africa. Lesotho, Malawi, South Africa and Zimbabwe are all affected. In February – Mosisili declares state of emergency, appeals for food aid. Aid officials say hundreds of thousands face shortages after three-year struggle against drought. March – Official opening of first phase of multi-billion-dollar Lesotho Highlands Water Project, which supplies water to South Africa.

◆ 2005 November 24. The UN food agency says the United States has thrown a lifeline to six southern African countries, donating food aid valued at $45 million. The food will be distributed across Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

◆ 2006 April 28, Prince Harry, third in line to the British throne, launches a charity in memory of his late mother Princess Diana to help Aids orphans in Lesotho.

◆ 2006 May 16, Irish rock star Bono begins a new African tour in Lesotho where he plans to unveil a new initiative to fight Aids in its ailing textile industry.

◆ 2006 August, SADC summit closes with a pledge to speed up regional economic integration.

◆ 2006 November 24, Samuella Jacobina Verwey (36), a Dutch aid worker with the Clinton Foundation, is shot to death at the house of Mpho Malie, Lesotho’s trade and industry minister. Malie is seen as a major contender for the leadership of the ruling LCD after Mosisili quits.

◆ 2007 February 17, Lesotho holds elections. The ruling party, which has brought stability to the mountain kingdom, faces a new rival set up on a platform of change. The ruling LCD wins early parliamentary elections, taking 61 of 80 constituencies; leader of the opposition All Basotho Convention (ABC) challenges the outcome.

◆ 2007 July. State of emergency declared as Lesotho experiences its most severe drought in 30 years.

◆ 2007: The population of Lesotho stands at about 1.8 million and almost one in four adults has HIV/Aids. Lesotho’s textile industry, the only industry to speak of, employs some 45,000 people.

◆ 2008 July 16, the United States signs a pair of agreements to boost trade and investment ties with countries in southern and eastern Africa. These included the Trade, Investment and Development Cooperation Agreement with the Southern Africa Customs Union (SACU), which includes Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland; and the Trade Investment and Framework Agreement (TIFA) with the East African Community, which includes Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda.

◆ 2008 September 8. Miners in Lesotho find one of the world’s largest diamonds, a near-flawless white gem weighing nearly 500 carats.

◆ 2009 April 22. A military-style offensive takes place on the official residence of the PM Pakalitha Mosisili. Two men are arrested shortly after the shooting. Seven others are arrested across the border in South Africa the day after the shooting. The nine men are charged with 31 counts, including murder and attempted murder in the attack.

◆ 2010 September 3. Thomas Maresco (24), a US Peace Corps volunteer, is shot and killed in an apparent robbery attempt.

◆ 2012 February 28. Mosisili resigns from the faction-riven ruling party that he led in power since 1998 to form a new movement, Democratic Congress. May 26, Lesotho’s one million voters go to the polls in a tight general election where bitter personal rivalries among the three main party leaders have overshadowed worries about jobs and poverty. More than half of the nation’s two million people lived in poverty. Final results show Mosisili’s Democratic Congress (DC) winning 48 seats of 120 seats. May 29. Lesotho opposition parties agree to unite to bring down Mosisili, whose party fails to win an absolute majority in the weekend parliamentary election. May 30. Mosisili resigns after his party fails to win a majority in parliamentary elections and the opposition unites to oust him after 14 years in power. Thomas Thabane of the All Basotho Congress becomes prime minister following elections.

◆ 2015 June. Lesotho army commander Lieutenant General Maaparankoe Mahao is shot dead by some members of the LDF at his house. PM Thabane flees to South Africa, accusing the military of trying to overthrow him. SADC appoints a Commission of Inquiry into the shooting of Mahao.

◆ Thabane briefly returns in 2015 for parliamentary elections which he loses.

◆ 2016 Februar y. Mosisili becomes prime minister at the head of a coalition formed after early elections.

◆ 2017. March SADC Extraordinary Summit in Swaziland expresses concern at the political volatility in Lesotho and urges the kingdom to abide by the regional bloc’s decisions.

◆ 2017 June. Lesotho holds elections. PM Mosisili loses and Thomas Thabane returns to power. – additional reporting by Reuters/AFP/AP

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