Lesotho frets over new coalition government

2015-03-08 15:00

Lesotho’s newly elected Parliament is due to hold a special meeting on Tuesday to allow the national assembly to elect a speaker and prime minister.

Last week’s peaceful snap election in the mountain kingdom yielded another coalition government, and while the new leaders say Lesotho’s problems have been solved, analysts and observers disagree.

Pakalitha Mosisili, Democratic Congress leader and prime minister-elect, previously served as prime minister and defence minister from 1998 to 2012, when his party was ousted by Tom Thabane’s All Basotho Convention.

Mosisili and his deputy-elect, Mothetjoa Metsing, were confident this week the country’s security situation, which led to the poll being held two years earlier than expected, presented no problems at all.

“As a country, Lesotho has been terribly dented. We have had a prime minister whose security of government was not in the hands of Lesotho forces, but South African forces,” Mosisili told SABC television in an interview this week.

“For the head of government of an independent sovereign country to be governed by foreign forces shows the extent of how things had gone wrong. There is no security problem in Lesotho. The problem was [former] prime minister Thomas Thabane.”

Metsing added that security was no longer an issue because Thabane “is no longer in government”.

He will now become an opposition MP.

Thabane sought shelter in South Africa in August after an alleged coup attempt when soldiers faithful to Mosisili occupied police headquarters and encircled Thabane’s house. This eventually precipitated the early elections secured by Lesotho and the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

Meanwhile, City Press has learnt that Lesotho’s sacked army chief, Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli, has returned to Lesotho after his posting to Sudan under the mediation deal brokered by SADC.

He spent the past five months in South Africa, however, instead of going to Sudan.

Observers and analysts said Lesotho’s new government could fail again if political parties didn’t work together.

Former Kenyan prime minister Raila Odinga, who was the head of the African Union observer mission, this week called on Lesotho to form an all-inclusive government with the major parties to address its problem, which was systemic.

There was an urgent need for constitutional, political, security and even economic reforms in Lesotho, which “should be inclusive of all political parties, such as the grand coalition government we had in Kenya that allowed us to review our constitution”, Odinga said.

National University of Lesotho vice-chancellor Nqosa Mahao told political party representatives and civil society leaders on Wednesday that the exclusion of Thabane’s party could become a problem.

He said the election results for the All Basotho Convention, with 46 seats, and the Democratic Congress, with 47, were close.

“With the two in government, you would have consensus on institutional and constitutional reforms, as they would be built around inclusivity and focus on national healing,” Mahao said.

He warned that the “technical majority” government could end up imposing decisions that many voters were not happy with.

Dimpho Motsamai, an analyst with the Institute for Security Studies, told Voice of America that Mosisili would be beholden to “political blackmail”.

“The coalition is fickle because the kingmakers are the small parties. If they feel that they cannot get what they want, they will broker a different deal – probably with the opposition,” Motsamai said.

The All Basotho Convention’s anticorruption drive, which has led to investigations into some of the politicians who will now govern Lesotho, is likely to be discontinued too.

South African Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa said SADC would not interfere in the formation of Lesotho’s new government.

“It is now incumbent on the political parties to show the aspirations of the people of Lesotho,” he said.

The ANC congratulated Lesotho, saying the elections “are yet another testament to the entrenchment of democracy in our region and continent”.

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