Lesotho PM asks SADC to send peace force after 'coup'

2014-09-01 14:36
Lesotho's prime minister Tom Thabane. (File: AFP)

Lesotho's prime minister Tom Thabane. (File: AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Maseru - Lesotho's exiled premier on Monday called on the southern African regional bloc SADC to send peacekeeping troops to his country, after claiming that the army had seized power in a coup.

Tom Thabane had fled to South Africa in fear of his life on Saturday. In his absence, a political rival told AFP on Monday that he had now taken over as acting prime minister of the tiny mountain kingdom.

"I am acting prime minister," public service minister Motloheloa Phooko said, citing "cabinet protocol" for his temporary appointment.

Phooko is a member of the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD), which is part of an acrimonious coalition government with Thabane.

The LCD has been accused of being in league with the military to oust Thabane, a charge both the party and the military brass deny.

'Situation is out of hand'

At crisis talks in Pretoria, Thabane called on the 15-nation SADC to send peacekeeping troops, warning that the "situation is out of hand", his aide told AFP.

"You can no longer say you can only send a mission. You need an intervention of soldiers," said Samonyane Ntsekele.

The military on Saturday launched a deadly attack on police installations and Thabane's residence.

Since then it has been unclear who is running the country.

The military has largely returned to barracks, denying a coup and claiming that soldiers were conducting a security operation against police who intended to arm "political fanatics."

LCD leader and deputy prime minister Mothetjoa Metsing has denied any role in the operation and is currently at the talks in Pretoria.

Phooko said he would issue a statement to the nation later on Monday, describing the political situation as "fluid".

'Renegade general'

A mass LCD demonstration planned for Monday has been cancelled at the military and police's request.

While traffic returned to the streets of Maseru, people remained nervous that splits in the army could prompt further violence.

When asked who is in charge of the military, acting prime minister Phooko said "that is a difficult question".

Intelligence sources have claimed that Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli orchestrated the coup when the prime minister removed him from his post and moved to appoint new prosecutors to investigate the deputy prime minister.

Kamoli was to be replaced by Lieutenant General Maaparankoe Mahao, who fled the country on Saturday after a pre-dawn assassination attempt.

Speaking in Pretoria, Mahao told AFP that Kamoli had become a "renegade general".

"On the ground we have a situation that we have a renegade general who is refusing to step down," he said.

Criminal acts

"There are a number of criminal acts conducted by sections under his command. He is afraid that when he is removed from office, the forces of justice will come into effect."

Mahao claimed that soldiers had also sought to seize police files relating to the deputy prime minister, the LCD's Metsing.

"The deputy prime minister is implicated in corruption charges. He is under investigation for that."

Attempted mediation in Maseru by Lesotho's King collapsed over Kamoli's participation, according to Anglican Archbishop of Lesotho Adam Taaso.

"It's difficult, even if we negotiate we might ourselves negotiating with a person with no locus standi," he said.

South Africa, which encircles Lesotho and has often had a decisive hand in the country's politics, was also trying to broker a "road map" out of the crisis.

Top diplomats from the Southern African Development Community meeting in Pretoria extended talks with leaders of the three ruling parties into a second day on Monday.

Key among the LCD's demands are the re-opening of parliament, which the prime minister suspended over fears of the apparent coup.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed concern about the "military takeover" and called for respect for "democratic rule" ahead of the talks, according to his spokesperson.

Read more on:    un  |  sadc  |  ban ki-moon  |  tom thabane  |  lesotho  |  sa  |  southern africa  |  coups

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


6 myths about male cancer

It is important to be aware of the most prevalent cancer diseases amongst men in our country.


You won't want to miss...

Who are the highest paid models of 2017?
10 gorgeous plus-sized models who aren't Ashley Graham
5 top leg exercises for men
10 best dressed men of 2017
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.