MASERU — The Democratic Congress has vowed to fight back after its supporters were attacked by an alleged opposition mob at a rally on Thursday afternoon.
More than 10 people were injured and a number of cars were damaged in the clash that started when an alleged opposition mob stormed the DC rally at the Thetsane Industrial area.
The opposition supporters were clad in All Basotho Convention (ABC), Lesotho Workers’ Party (LWP) and the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) regalia.
Waving their placards denouncing DC leader, Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili, the mob pushed through a plastic cordon to get closer to the tent which had been erected for senior DC officials.
As they drew closer to the DC supporters the opposition supporters started pushing the DC’s security marshals.
Hell broke loose when the marshals reacted by beating some of the opposition supporters with sticks.
The opposition then retaliated by throwing stones at the security personnel.
Instead of intervening the few police officers who were at the rally ran for their dear lives.
Soldiers and riot police had to be called to restore order before Mosisili could address his supporters.
On Friday DC’s secretary general Ralechate ’Mokose said his party “is not going take any further attacks lying down”.
He said if DC supporters are attacked again “they will react in the natural way that humans react to an attack”.
’Mokose said the DC will not report the attack to the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) Tribunal because it won’t make a difference.
This, he said, was because when the DC complained that some opposition supporters heckled Mosisili at a rally in Maputsoe on April 4 the IEC Tribunal chaired by Advocate Sakoane Sakoane said there was nothing wrong with people being heckled at political rallies.
“Why then should we waste our time going to the same tribunal that said its okay for opposition supporters to attend our rallies in their party regalia and heckle our leader?” said ’Mokose.
He said the IEC must take the blame for the violence at Thursday’s rally.
“The IEC tribunal said political rallies were not like churches and no law prohibits people from heckling others. The violence on Thursday was part of the process that started with the heckling that the tribunal said was fine.”
“If at all we decide to approach the tribunal in future we are going to ask Sakoane to recuse himself first.”
After the clashes on Thursday Mosisili also told his supporters to retaliate if opposition parties disrupt their rallies.
“If they try to disrupt your rallies, you should retaliate with all your might and give it back to them. Yes, I am saying that,” Mosisili said in his speech at the rally after the violent clashes.
“We should discipline these lunatics ourselves. Yes, I am saying exactly that. You should never let them walk all over you.”
He however warned DC youths against attacking members of the opposition unless they are provoked.
“If you are provoked, then you should fight back.”
“Whoever picks on you ensure that you discipline them firmly.”
An emotional Mosisili also launched a scathing attack on the IEC tribunal for dismissing the DC’s complaints over the heckling in Maputsoe.
“Well, maybe Mr Sakoane will be happy to learn today that blood has been shed.
“I even told church leaders that attempts to disrupt our rallies will result in blood-shed.”
The DC will never give in to the violent tactics being used by the opposition, he said.
“The more they try to stop us from holding rallies, the more defiant we should be in our cause.
“We need to be stronger and braver and take matters into our own hands.”
He said after the clashes he had been advised to cancel his speech but he refused.
“I’d never have turned back, whether they liked it or not.
“We’re using our right as a political party to hold rallies to campaign.
“We were issued a permit to hold this rally,” Mosisili said.