SADC launches Lesotho mission

Maseru – SADC officially launched the SADC Preventive Mission in the Kingdom of Lesotho on 2 December 2017.

The Representative of the Chairperson of Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation, Admiral Gaspar Santos Rufino, officially launched the SADC Preventive Mission in the Kingdom of Lesotho (SAPMIL) at the Vodacom Park Grounds in Maseru.

Acting Prime Minister of Lesotho, Monyane Moleleki attended the launch while the SADC Executive Secretary was represented by SADC Director Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Affairs, Jorge Cardoso.  In his remarks, Cardoso expressed gratitude to the acting Prime Minister and the government of Lesotho for their commitment towards the implementation of SADC decisions that are aimed at assisting Lesotho return to normalcy.

He further recalled the different preliminary actions taken by SADC leadership that led to the official launch of the mission on this day.

Moleleki conveyed his gratitude to countries of the region that deployed personnel to Lesotho in order to secure a stable and peaceful environment to restore the stability of the country.

“Your presence here today bears witness to yet another historic and firm resolve by SADC to support the Kingdom of Lesotho in her quest to institute reforms aimed at achieving lasting political and security [stability] necessary for economic development and the general well-being of Basotho,” he said.

In his official opening remarks, Admiral Rufino thanked the government and people of Lesotho for warmly welcoming SAPMIL personnel.

He assured them that SAPMIL was deployed to support Lesotho in its quest to restore peace, security and stability to the country and not to takeover or replace the Lesotho Defence Force or other security institutions of Lesotho.

He added that it should not, therefore, be considered as an intruder or an invader but rather like brothers and sisters from the region willing to assist Basotho. He also expressed optimism that at the end of the mission both SADC and Lesotho would win.

Prior to the re-hatting of the contingent and the inspection of the contingent by the Head of SAPMIL, Admiral Rufino officially opened the SAPMIL Headquarters by hoisting the SADC flag, accompanied by Moleleki and Cardoso.

Admiral Rufino also handed over the SADC flag to the head of mission, Ambassador Matias Matondo, signifying the handing over of power to enable the Head of Mission to direct and supervise SAPMIL.

SAPMIL comprises 269 personnel: 207 military personnel, 15 intelligence officers, 24 police officers; and 12 civilian experts in different fields.

The team would be on the ground for an initial period of six months. It has been deployed initially for six months subject to extension.

The mission was launched pursuant to the decision of the Double Troika Summit (DTS) of 15 September 2017 to deploy a contingent force to Lesotho in order to facilitate a secure, stable and peaceful environment conducive for the rule of law necessary for the implementation of SADC decisions, including the security sector reforms.

The DTS decision also followed a request from the government of Lesotho. SAPMIL has therefore been deployed with the consent of the government of Lesotho in order to complement its efforts to attain lasting peace and security in the country.

The official launch was followed by a media briefing at the Lesotho Convention Centre where the representative of the SADC Chairperson of Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation in presence of the Acting Prime Minister of Lesotho, some members of the government of Lesotho, and the diplomatic corps, briefed the media and sensitised them on their role to inform the public in general and the Basothos in particular of the objectives and the mandate of the mission. – SADC.int

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