Political parties attack Thabane over army deployment


  •  say move shows he’s no longer fit for office and must go now 

Pascalinah Kabi

THE ruling All Basotho Convention (ABC), the opposition Democratic Congress (DC) and two other parties have attacked Prime Minister Thomas Thabane for deploying the army around Maseru on Saturday. Mr Thabane deployed the heavily armed soldiers to deal with his party rivals and others he accused of destabilising his government.

In a joint statement this week, Mr Thabane’s own ABC, the DC, Basotho National Party (BNP) and Popular Front for Democracy (PFD) deplored the deployment of the soldiers as well as Mr Thabane’s alleged move to use the army commander to arrest Police Commissioner Holomo Molibeli. Commissioner Molibeli this week told the Lesotho Times that he was a free man only because army commander Lieutenant General Mojalefa Letsoela defied orders to arrest him. The police boss did not say who had issued the order for his arrest but it is obvious only Mr Thabane has the power to issue such a drastic instruction.

In their statement, the political parties said the deployment of soldiers destabilised the security agencies and demonstrated that Mr Thabane was no longer fit to remain in office. They therefore urged him to resign without further delay.

“We are concerned with the latest developments in Lesotho where the prime minister is on a crusade to destabilise security agencies and is interfering with their day-to-day running,” the four parties said in their weekend statement, adding it was now an open secret that politicians were responsible for Lesotho’s instability by interfering with the security agencies.

They said prior to the 2017 elections which ushered in the current Thabane-led four party regime comprising of the ABC, BNP, Alliance of Democrats (AD and the Reformed Congress of Lesotho (RCL), all political parties had agreed that the security agencies would be apolitical in line with proposed security sector reforms.

“We are deeply concerned that the prime minister is hell-bent on undermining this programme (of reforms) by messing up with the security agencies.

“We are aware that the prime minister is always making attempts to fire the commissioner of police (Holomo Molibeli) without any valid reasons. Since there are no valid reasons to support the prime minister’s attempts, this suggests that the prime minister may be going after the commissioner because the latter does not satisfy the interests of the premier and those around him.”

The parties claimed they were aware that Mr Thabane had on several occasions pushed Lt-Gen Letsoela to arrest Commissioner Molibeli. They further alleged the premier was now planning to fire Lt-Gen Letsoela for refusing to implement his unlawful orders.

They said this and other serious violations of the law and court orders showed that Mr Thabane no longer respected the head of state, His Majesty King Letsie III. The premier’s actions demonstrated that he was no longer fit for office and he should therefore resign without further delay, the parties said.

“It is most embarrassing that His Majesty’s most senior minister (Mr Thabane) is at the forefront of violating the constitution and being in contempt of court decisions (sic).

“His actions point directly to the fact that he is no longer the same leader that we trusted to be a hero during challenging times.

“We all know the prime minister’s skills, capabilities and love he had when he was still going strong. For the sake of protecting the prime minister’s dignity, maintaining respect for the King and principles of a democratic government, we respectfully advise the premier to rethink the timelines of his retirement and leave earlier than the time he had communicated.

“Retiring now would save him the torture that he goes through every day. We conclude by knocking on the prime minister’s heart and of his (sic) advisers to be merciful and allow the prime minister to immediately retire from office and save the country from the dark cloud hovering over Lesotho,” the parties said in their statement.

Contacted for comment this week, a defiant Mr Thabane said he was not going anywhere anytime soon.

“Who is saying that (I should retire now)? They (political parties) are the ones who are saying that and therefore you should ask them for comment,” Mr Thabane said. He said he would not allow anyone to force him out of office and he would go when he chose to.