World condemns Mahao killing
The United Nations (UN), American government and African Union have condemned the fatal shooting of former Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) Commander Maaparankoe Mahao.
Brigadier Mahao (47) was gunned down by LDF members as he left his farm in Mokema on Thursday afternoon. The army has since said Brigadier Mahao was shot during a special operation investigating alleged mutiny in the LDF.
The operation, which started last month, has seen several LDF members being arrested and detained at Maseru Maximum Security Prison amid allegations of torture.
In statements released following the shooting which has received widespread condemnation among Basotho, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon urged government to ensure “the perpetrators are brought to justice”, while the United States (US) Department Spokesperson John Kirby called for “a thorough and transparent investigation of Brigadier Mahao’s death and to hold accountable those responsible.”
African Union (AU) Commission chairperson, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, also said the continental body “strongly condemns these acts which threaten to undermine efforts towards a peaceful transition following the recently concluded elections in the country.”
Dr Dlamini-Zuma continued: “The Chairperson of the Commission reiterates her call to the various parties in Lesotho to resolve their political differences through peaceful means and within the framework of the country’s Constitution. The Chairperson of the Commission conveys her deepest sympathy to the bereaved family of the fallen Lt General Maaparankoe Mahao (government demoted him to Brigadier on 21 May 2015 soon after removing him as LDF boss, citing the appointment had been made illegally by then Prime Minister Thomas Thabane) and to the government and people of Lesotho.”
On his part, Mr Kirby said the US was “concerned” by the killing, which the Lesotho government claims was the result of Brigadier Mahao resisting arrest by members of the LDF. Mr Mahao’s family has since dismissed this statement as “nonsensical”, arguing he was “assassinated”.
Noted Mr Kirby in his statement released in Washington yesterday: “The United States is deeply concerned about the fatal shooting on June 25 of former Lesotho Defense Force Commander Maaparankoe Mahao and conveys our heartfelt condolences to his family. We urge the Government of Lesotho to ensure a thorough and transparent investigation of Brigadier Mahao’s death and to hold accountable those responsible.
“This latest—and most tragic—example of abuses within the Lesotho Defense Force highlights the urgent need for security sector reform, a goal identified as top priority by the Government of Lesotho in its coalition agreement. We welcome that commitment and encourage the government to move forward quickly and robustly in transforming the defense force into an institution that enjoys the confidence of all Basotho.”
The UN also sent its condolences to the Mahao family: “The Secretary General expresses his condolences to the bereaved family and urges the government of the Kingdom of Lesotho to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to justice.”
Mr Ki-Moon further reiterated the “urgent need to move forward with institutional and security reforms as outlined in the Government’s Coalition Agreement for Stability and Reform and recommended by the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
“The Secretary General reaffirms the continued commitment of the United Nations to support the efforts of the government and the people of Lesotho to consolidate peace in the Kingdom.”