Cyril Ramaphosa appointed Lesotho mediator

2014-09-16 08:41

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Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa has been appointed to mediate in the political crisis in Lesotho as leaders agreed to bring that country’s elections date forward from 2017 in an apparent attempt to solve the impasse.

This follows a special double troika summit by leaders of the Southern African Development Community in Pretoria last night.

The summit started about two hours late because leaders were waiting for SADC chairperson and Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe to arrive.

Also attending was President Jacob Zuma who, as the head of the SADC troika on politics, defence and security, was hosting the summit.

Also present were President Ian Khama from Botswana, where the SADC headquarters are, Lesotho Prime Minister Thomas Thabane and his deputy Mothetjoa Metsing, Vice-President Saulos Chilima from Malawi and ministers from Namibia, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

According to the summit communique, issued just after midnight, “leaders of the coalition government have agreed to bring forward the date of the elections from 2017 to the date to be agreed upon after consultations between the coalition leaders and the coalition government and other stakeholders”.

The leaders also agreed to reconvene the country’s Parliament and focus on preparing for these elections.

They will be working with Ramaphosa “in addressing all political and security challenges in preparation for the brought forward elections”, according to the communiqué.

Ramaphosa has been given “clear terms of reference to facilitate the restoration of political and security stability in the Kingdom of Lesotho, in the short and long term”.

The SADC troika will also deploy an observer mission for three months to help with this process and various states have pledged to “deploy officers in Lesotho”.

Thabane suspended Parliament in June and has gone back on his undertaking to Zuma to recall Parliament, claiming the security situation still presented a problem.

Some also claim that Thabane would lose a vote of confidence if he reconvened Parliament.

Zuma went to Maseru last week in his capacity as SADC troika chairperson in an attempt to mediate in the crisis.

The issue of disarming exiled Rwandan FDLR (Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda) militia in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo was also discussed.

In its communiqué the summit threatened military action should the militia not disarm.

The summit said the international community should initiate a “resettlement programme in countries outside the Great Lakes Region to accommodate those FDLR elements who have voluntarily disarmed but are unwilling or not allowed to repatriate to Rwanda”.

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