PM Thabane returns to Lesotho after coup scare

Lesotho's Prime Minister Thomas Thabane returned to state house in the capital Maseru, four days after he fled to South Africa following an apparent bid by the military to oust him

PM Thabane returns to Lesotho after coup scare

World Bulletin / News Desk

Lesotho Prime Minister Thomas Motsoahae Thabane arrived at State House in capital Maseru on Wednesday morning.

Prior to Thabane's arrival, members of the South African Police Services (SAPS) deployed in and around State House.

"The arrival of the SAPS at State House is only for security measures," Thabane's advisor, Samonyane Ntsekele, told Anadolu Agency.

Ntsekele said that the premier – along with his deputy, Mothetjoa Metsing, who heads the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD), and Basotho National Party leader Thesele Maseribane – would present a joint statement to King Letsie III later on Wednesday.

"It is protocol that PM Thabane would meet with His Majesty alone," said Ntsekele.

"But due to the events that have taken place and the outcome of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) talks, it would be best that the prime minister be joined by his coalition leaders in meeting with His Majesty," the advisor added.

LCD spokesperson Ts'eliso Mokhosi confirmed that all three leaders would present their joint statement to the king.

"All coalition leaders are today expected to present their joint statement to King Letsie III and map their way towards the reopening of parliament," he told AA.

On Monday, coalition government leaders had called for immediate intervention and support by the SADC.

At a meeting with South African President Jacob Zuma, the current chairman of SADC, they warned that Lesotho's political and security situation was deteriorating.

Thabane fled to South Africa with his family on Saturday, accusing his country's army of staging a military coup against his government.

The Lesotho military reportedly raided police stations, disarmed police and took several radio stations off air.

Entirely surrounded by South African territory, the mountainous kingdom has been dogged by political tension since Thabane suspended the country's national assembly earlier this year in a bid to circumvent a no-confidence vote.

The unrest stems from a power struggle between Thabane, who is supported by the police, and Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing, who has the loyalty of the army, diplomats said.

Tension has risen since Thabane, who has accused Metsing of orchestrating the coup, suspended parliament in June amid feuding in the 2-year-old governing coalition.

Thabane told Reuters at the weekend he had fired the army commander, Lieutenant-General Kennedy Tlali Kamoli, and appointed Brigadier Maaparankoe Mahao to replace him. But Kamoli has not said publicly that he will stand down.

Lesotho has suffered a several coups since independence from Britain in 1966. At least 58 locals and eight South African soldiers died during a political stand-off and subsequent fighting in 1998, when Pretoria sent in troops.

Besides textile exports and a slice of regional customs receipts, Lesotho's other big earner is hydropower and water, both of which it supplies to neighbour South Africa.

Last Mod: 03 Eylül 2014, 15:46
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