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Lesotho tops SADC summit agenda


Staff Writer

THE Southern African Development Community (SADC) People’s Summit has called for Lesotho and five other countries to be “urgently dealt with” during the regional bloc’s Summit of Heads of State and Government in Mbabane, Swaziland tomorrow.

The SADC People’s Summit is a forum of civil society organisations (CSOs) and social movements from the region that meets parallel to Heads of State and Government summit. The SADC People’s Summit was held in Manzini, Swaziland, from 16 to 19 August under the theme: “A Peoples’ driven SADC committed to total liberation for all”.

The agenda of the SADC People’s Summit was to deliberate on issues affecting the region and craft a communique that was to be sent to heads of states and governments during their indaba scheduled to start tomorrow until Wednesday.

Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili and other regional leaders are expected to attend the SADC Summit of Heads of State and Government in which the political logjam in Lesotho is expected to top the agenda.

The government will be under the spotlight at the indaba after a Double Troika Summit held in Botswana in June had given Maseru up to the end of this month to ensure exiled opposition leaders returned home.

Former premier and All Basotho Convention leader Thomas Thabane, BNP leader Thesele ‘Maseribane and Reformed Congress of Lesotho leader Keketso Rantšo fled the country in May 2015 claiming they had been alerted of a plot to kill them by the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF), an allegation the military has categorically denied.

During the SADC People’s Summit, seven wives of detained and exiled Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) members lobbied incoming SADC chairman King Mswati III to intervene in the “suffering” of their husbands at the hands of the army command.

At the conclusion of the SADC People’s Summit, the more than 2 000 representatives of CSOs and other social movements issued a statement outlining their deliberations and demands.

Dubbed “The Manzini Peoples’ Declaration” the statement pinpoints Lesotho and four other countries; Zimbabwe, Mauritius, Mozambique and Swaziland as needing “to be urgently dealt with” during the SADC Summit of Heads of State and Government.

“SADC must force Lesotho to implement the SADC Phumaphi Commission of Inquiry resolution in solving the Lesotho crisis,” reads part of the statement issued this past week.

The 10-member Commission of legal and security experts led by Botswana judge, Justice Mpaphi Phumaphi, probed Lesotho’s security and political challenges following the fatal shooting of former army commander Maaparankoe Mahao on 25 June 2015.

The probe was held between 31 August and 23 October 2015 and recommended the dismissal of LDF commander Lieutenant-General Tlali Kamoli and the return of exiled opposition leaders among others.

“The detained soldiers of Lesotho must be released from maximum prison,” further reads the statement.

“Wives of the detained soldiers in Lesotho with the assistance of other countries should start campaign demanding the release of the detained soldiers.

“SADC (should) ensure that no one is above the law in Lesotho and strengthen democracy, rule of law and media pluralism.”

The detained soldiers are part of 23 LDF members who were arrested between May and June 2015 for allegedly plotting to violently remove the LDF command.

Seven of the soldiers have since been released from Maseru Maximum Security Prison and placed under open arrest, which is a form of bail in the military. The other 16 remain in detention.

The SADC People’s Summit also calls on the governments of Lesotho and Swaziland to do more to protect women from sexual abuse.

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