Too risky to arrest Lesotho coup leader - report

Maseru - Lesotho’s renegade army chief Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli has resurfaced in the country’s capital despite facing treason charges. However, he has not been detained as police say it is too risky to arrest him.

According to the Sunday Times, Kamoli, who was holed up in the surrounding mountains following his failed coup attempt on 30 August, has been seen in uniform and with a motorcade in several places in the city, including at military hospital and Maseru airport.

Lesotho police said a case of high treason is being investigated against Kamoli – a charge that carries the death penalty.

Following his unsuccessful coup attempt, Kamoli took to the hills with about 200 soldiers and a large amount of weapons, including AK47s, grenade-launchers, an anti-aircraft gun and about 20 mortars.

Crisis summit deadlocked

Meanwhile, as reported by News24, Lesotho's deadlocked political parties failed to meet a Friday deadline for a fresh peace deal, prompting South Africa to call an emergency meeting of regional leaders.

After promising President Jacob Zuma that they would decide by Friday when to reopen Lesotho's parliament, rival leaders failed to resolve a crisis sparked two weeks ago by the aborted coup.

Reopening the legislature - which was shut in June - is seen as a key step toward restoring normality in the tiny mountainous state.

The attempted coup by Kamoli saw the military assault several police stations prompting the prime minister to flee the country.

One Lesotho police officer was killed, and nine others injured in the unrest.

Prime Minister Tom Thabane has since returned, protected by South African guards, but a Pretoria-brokered peace deal quickly disintegrated.

On Friday rival party leaders failed to patch up their difference, instead calling for the 15-member Southern African Development Community (SADC) to step in.

"How can you open your own parliament when you still have foreign troops here, protecting you?" asked Thesele Maseribane, one of those who fled and is now under foreign guard.

"Everyone's interested in parliament, but what about what recently happened here? This is not a movie. This is reality. This was an attempted coup."

Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing's Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) party has been blamed along with Kamoli for the putsch.

Bloodbath

Kamoli has refused a prime ministerial order to resign and has apparently raided government armouries in preparation for a showdown. His allies have warned of a "bloodbath" if he is forcibly removed.

The SADC has so far been willing to play mediator, but rebuffed calls by some Lesotho leaders for military intervention, pressing instead for a political resolution.

Zuma visited Lesotho this week to try to end the stand-off, but Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa was to travel to the country again on Friday.

A SADC troika will meet next week to discuss the crisis.

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe - who currently holds the rotating chairmanship of the bloc - said a full 15-member summit will be held on Wednesday in Pretoria.

The leaders are sure to face more calls for military intervention, although locals say they are "praying for peace".

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