Lesotho prime minister delays parliament reopening after alleged coup

By Drum Digital
08 September 2014

Prime Minister Thomas Thabane has postponed plans to reopen parliament in Lesotho, a government spokesman said Monday, nine days after an alleged coup attempt.

Prime Minister Thomas Thabane has postponed plans to reopen parliament in Lesotho, a government spokesman said Monday, nine days after an alleged coup attempt. Lesotho's three governing parties agreed a week ago in South Africa to lift a suspension of parliament ordered by Thabane to avoid a no-confidence vote in June. The deal brokered by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) was seen as a first step to restore order after Thabane fled the country on August 30, alleging a coup.

Parliament was due to reopen on September 19, but the move has been postponed until it has been clarified who is in charge of the army, government spokesman Ramakhula Ramakhula told dpa.

Analyst Marafaele Mohlodoli said the prime minister was thought to still be trying to avoid a no-confidence vote. Observers report infighting within the government.

South African President Jacob Zuma and International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane will travel to Lesotho on Tuesday, the president's office said in a statement.

Zuma will meet King Letsie III and leaders of the coalition parties in order to "assist the kingdom to restore peace and stability," the statement said.

Army spokesman Major Ntele Ntoi denied reports that Lieutenant-General Tlali Kamoli had seized weapons and fled to the mountains to prepare an insurgency.

Kamoli "is still in his office" and remains the commander of the army, Ntoi told dpa, accusing Lieutenant-General Maaparankoe Mahao of spreading false information about Kamoli.

Thabane had sacked Kamoli and appointed Mahao to succeed him, allegedly over the army chief's support to the premier's deputy and political rival Mothetjoa Metsing.

Kamoli was thought to have ordered soldiers to seize weapons from police stations on August 30 and to surround the residence of Thabane, who fled to South Africa.

The army denies having attempted a coup and says it only wanted to prevent police from supplying weapons to some political factions.

Metsing, who has governed Lesotho in a shaky coalition with Thabane since 2012, has denied involvement in the alleged coup.

The mountain kingdom of 2 million residents, located inside eastern South Africa, has experienced frequent political unrest since independence from Britain in 1966.

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