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Mahao mulls opening army office


. . . as newly-appointed commander fails to access barracks

Keiso Mohloboli

FRUSTRATED Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) Commander Lieutenant General Maaparankoe Mahao is considering opening an office “in town” after failing to access the army barracks since taking over the post last Friday.

According to military sources, Lt Gen Mahao is yet to address his subordinates despite concerted efforts to do so, and also meet Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli, who was fired as LDF commander for alleged insubordination, by Prime Minister Thomas Thabane.

However, despite public announcements of his removal, Lt Gen Kamoli remains firmly in charge of the LDF.

According to the sources, Lt Gen Kamoli commands “a lot of support” within the LDF, particularly among the Special Forces, Military Intelligence, and private officers, hence Lt Gen Mahao’s failure to make inroads and assert his authority.

“Because he has failed to assert his control, Lt Gen Mahao has asked the prime minister to allow him to open an office in town, and possibly at one of the security agencies, and ask those who are loyal to him to be reporting there instead of going to the barracks,” said the source.

“My understanding is this permission has been granted, and it’s only a matter of time before a public announcement is made to that effect.”

Contacted last night, Lt Gen Mahao refused to comment on the issue, but confirmed he had not been able to enter any of the army barracks since his appointment.

“The army is in tatters because there is a group of rebels supporting Kamoli within the LDF,” said Lt Gen Mahao.

“This man has a following in the Special Forces, Military Intelligence, newly-graduated recruits and other army officers, particularly from the districts.

“Kamoli has turned into a rebel and I have been informed that he opened the armoury and took out LDF weapons, which he and his followers have now taken to the remote, mountainous areas of the country. I am told they are saying they took the arms to protect themselves.”

Lt Gen Mahao further said Lt Gen Kamoli refused to honour an invitation from the prime minister on 3 September and had, two days earlier, also denied a SADC delegation entry into Ha Ratjomose Barracks where the latter’s office is situated.

The SADC delegation, said Lt Gen Mahao, wanted to convince Lt Gen Kamoli to step down.

Meanwhile, according to another LDF source, the prime minister allegedly intended to propose an exit package for Lt Gen Kamoli when he invited him to State House on Wednesday.

“The prime minister wanted to offer Lt Gen Kamoli a golden handshake for the seven years that are still left before he can officially retire, when he turns 55 years of age,” the source said.

“This was after realising that the man is digging in and really not prepared to go. He has been in the army since he was 16, so you can appreciate the influence that he has in the LDF because this is where he has spent all his adult life.

“In fact, the army is the only life that he knows, hence his determination to stay.”

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