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Former foes reunite

. . . as LCD, DC leaders announce partnership

 

Billy Ntaote

LCD and DC supporters celebrate the parties’ union.
LCD and DC supporters celebrate the parties’ union.

The Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) and Democratic Congress (DC) on Friday announced an alliance that will see the two parties working together with the aim of forming a coalition government.
In one of the most dramatic developments to take place in Lesotho politics over recent years, LCD leader Mothetjoa Metsing, and his DC counterpart Pakalitha Mosisili, revealed their new partnership at a press conference attended by scores of supporters and some National Executive Committee (NEC) members from both parties.

Also present at Friday’s media briefing held just outside the ‘Manthabiseng National Convention Centre were the Basotho Congress Party (BCP) leader Thulo Mahlakeng, Lesotho People’s Congress (LPC) deputy leader Molahlehi Letlotlo and Basotho Batho Democratic Party (BBDP) leader Jeremane Ramathebane, who also expressed their support for the partnership.

However, Mr Metsing, who is also deputy prime minister, also announced he needed time to resolve his party’s bitter fallout with the All Basotho Convention (ABC) and Basotho National Party (BNP), which formed a coalition government with the LCD in June 2012.

Relations between the governing parties, in particular the LCD and ABC, have been rocky over recent weeks, and came to a head a fortnight ago when the former publicly accused ABC leader and Prime Minister Thomas Thabane of not consulting his fellow principals when making key governance decisions.
The Christian Council of Lesotho and Southern African Development Community (SADC) have since been making efforts to mediate in the dispute.

Peace talks between the feuding partners are supposed to resume on Wednesday this week, hence the public’s surprise at the LCD deal with its splinter party, the DC, which has been the country’s main opposition since Dr Thabane replaced Dr Mosisili as premier after the May 2012 parliamentary polls.
The DC’s formation in February 2012 by then LCD leader Dr Mosisili followed a bitter power-struggle with his then secretary-general, Mr Metsing, hence the public’s surprise at the new deal and show of friendship by the two leaders.

However, this acrimonious past appeared to have been forgotten as Mr Metsing told the cheering LCD and DC crowd of about 1 000 people: “I have requested my new partner that I still need to meet with Prime Minister Thabane and BNP leader Chief (Thesele) ‘Maseribane on Wednesday next week, in talks facilitated by SADC.
“As the LCD, we have accepted that the person we had entrusted with the leadership of our government (Dr Thabane) has no interest in working with us and sustaining the coalition we entered into after the May 2012 elections.
“So we decided to enter into a partnership with the biggest party in parliament which is the DC (the DC has 48 seats, while the LCD has 26 and ABC 28). We also realised we’d have a stable government with the DC, especially now that we have a special relationship.
“We met and agreed that we should, for the interest of our country’s peace and advancement of good governance and our government, work together.”

However, Metsing said since SADC had already sent a team to observe the political situation in the country and scheduled a meeting for 18 June between the LCD, ABC and BNP, he would be attending it despite his party’s new relationship with the DC.

“So after our individual meetings yesterday (Thursday) with the Namibian President (Hifikepunye Pohamba), we had another where we were brought together as the three coalition partners, where it became evident to him that all is not well between us.
“I outlined our grievances and the chairperson (Mr Pohamba is the chairperson of the Southern African Development Community Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation) encouraged us to have further consultations, to which we agreed.
“He encouraged us to maintain and avoid bloodshed above all else, as we continue with our negotiations,” Mr Metsing said.
He further said Mr Pohamba emphasised the need to have talks over the prorogued (suspended) parliament.
Dr Thabane last week prorogued parliament for nine months, saying this would give the three parties a chance to iron out their differences.
“We agreed that we’d have the talks from Wednesday and SADC is going to be informed of the decisions we would have made as government leaders.
“Mr Pohamba also encouraged that I should attend the talks even though I had already made my decision to enter into a partnership with the DC. This is why we had decided not to publicise our agreement with the DC as yet.”
Mr Metsing also emphasised the LCD was still part of government “until a new decision has been taken.

In the meantime, we have to sensitise our supporters across the country and make them understand we needed to make speedy decisions and join forces with the DC to preserve our country’s peace”.
In his address, Dr Mosisili said the DC and LCD already had an agreement to work together in place.
“It is not a secret anymore that we have been courting each other and that we now have an agreement to work together.
“Pohamba and Metsing have made an agreement. So we should let Metsing honour his commitments and we should let him go and talk to his partners in government.
“Metsing should be seen to be a man who honours his agreements and we should respect his integrity. We would like you to forgive us and give Metsing a chance,” Dr Mosisili said, amid thunderous applause from the crowd.

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