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Opposition and DC must put peace first

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LESOTHO’S opposition parties are livid after the High Court rejected their attempt to get an urgent hearing in a case in which they are challenging the legality of the newly formed Democratic Congress (DC) government.
The opposition, represented by Lesotho Workers Party (LWP) deputy leader Sello Maphalla and three others wanted the High Court to declare the assumption of office of premier by Pakalitha Mosisili on February 28 null and void.
They also wanted an order declaring that parliament “did not elect the Honourable Pakalitha Mosisili nor any Member of Parliament as Prime Minister as contemplated by the constitution and laws of Lesotho”.
Maphalla says as a result of what happened in parliament “the illegality of a non-constitutional government is being perpetuated daily much to the prejudice” of MPs and ordinary citizens.
He is also adamant that Basotho are “currently being governed by a non-constitutional government”.
In their court papers, the applicants argued that the matter should be dealt with expeditiously so that “Basotho can be governed by a legitimate government”.
These are very strong views.
We are surprised that High Court judge Justice Lebohang Molete ruled that Maphalla’s application was not urgent.
If this application was not urgent, what is?
We wish to respectfully differ with the honourable judge.
For a start, a general election is only less than three months away.
Any delays in hearing the matter can only result in irreparable harm on the applicants.
Our courts should intervene decisively to forestall a political crisis.
Justice Molete’s ruling on Friday could be seen by those in the opposition as an endorsement of the status quo.
We are therefore not surprised that the opposition feels hard done.
By refusing to deal with the matter on an urgent basis the court has left a “ticking time-bomb waiting to explode”.
With all options closed the opposition is now threatening to go the political route to get the matter fixed.
This can only mean trouble, the same trouble that we witnessed in 1998 when angry hordes literally burned Maseru to the ground.
We must do all we can to persuade the opposition and the DC administration to meet each other half-way in the search for a solution.
“War talk” will not help under the current circumstances.
As the opposition meets tomorrow to chart the way forward they must think of the bigger picture and not destroy in hours what has taken years to build.
No opposition leader worth his salt should be prepared to shoot his way into State House while stepping on dead bodies.
Mosisili, who has presided over the affairs of the state for the past 15 years, must accept he now has a serious credibility crisis.
Serious questions are now being raised about the legality or otherwise of his DC government that has stumbled from one crisis to another since Day One.
But all this however seems to have been of his own making.
With his government being questioned and his reputation being dragged through the mud, Mosisili must resist the temptation to go the radical route.
Instead he must help search for an amicable solution by pledging to run a clean election whose outcome is not contested in May.
Reckless threats by opposition leaders last week to arrest him can only radicalise Mosisili and force him to entrench his grip on power through legal or foul means.
He must be persuaded not to take that route.

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