Bongiwe Zihlangu and Caswell Tlali
MASERU – The police have beefed up the security of three political leaders amid reports of an assassination plot against them.
Acting Police Commissioner Kizito Mhlakaza this week told the All Basotho Convention (ABC) leader Tom Thabane, the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD)’s Mothetjoa Metsing and Thesele ‘Maseribane of the Basotho National Party (BNP) that the police was now responsible for their security.
Mhlakaza made the decision after the leaders told him that they had information of a plot to eliminate them after their parties entered into a coalition agreement to form the next government.
Police spokesperson Masupha Masupha told the Sunday Express that the police have also picked up similar reports from their investigations.
“The police want to find who the conspirators are and on whose behalf they are doing the dirty job,” Masupha said.
“Conspiracy to murder a person is a serious crime in Lesotho and all over the world.”
He added: “I appeal to the members of the public to give us any information that can lead to the arrest of the conspirators.”
Masupha said the police had heard that the people behind the plot held a meeting at a local hotel on Thursday.
BNP secretary general Moletsane Jonathan also made allegations of the assassination plot in a statement on Thursday.
“The party appeals to all who may be involved in the plots to desist from the schemes which have the potential to disturb the peace and tranquility of the country and to derail the nation from the path of democracy,” Jonathan said.
“In the same breadth, the BNP appeals to the international community to be seized of this grave matter which would be a disgrace to the recent national election that has been hailed by international observers as free, transparent and just.”
The ABC, LCD and BNP signed a coalition agreement on Tuesday to form a government if Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili’s Democratic Congress (DC), which won 48 constituencies, fails to get the 13 seats extra to reach the 61 seat majority.
Together the three parties are able to make the 61 seats required to form a government.
There are also indications that the Popular Front for Democracy (PFD) which has three seats is willing to throw its lot behind the Thabane-led coalition.
The Marematlou Freedom Party (MFP) which got one seat is also willing to support the coalition.
If all goes according to plan the coalition will have 65 seats in parliament.
That means the DC will not be able to get 61 seats even if it manages to get the support of the other smaller parties that have one seat each.
Thabane will then be elected prime minister with Metsing as his deputy.
‘Maseribane’s position has not yet been negotiated.
Thabane told the Lesotho Times on Wednesday that he was confident that the coalition will be able to form a government despite the parties’ different policies.
He said the differences were not “something the coalition cannot live with”.
The assassination plot dominated the agenda at a meeting of political leaders at the United Nations House in Maseru on Friday.
The meeting was organised by the Christian Council of Lesotho (CCL) and was chaired by the Roman Catholic Church’s Archbishop Tlali Lerotholi.
The CCL wanted all political leaders to commit themselves to a smooth transition towards the formation of a new government.
‘Maseribane told the meeting that the police’s Special Operations Unit told him, Thabane and Metsing on Wednesday that they had been sent by Mhlakaza to “offer us protection because our lives are in danger”.
“The police came to me, Ntate Thabane and Ntate Metsing to tell us that they are worried about our safety,” ‘Maseribane said.
“They said that they had been directed by the commissioner of police to offer us voluntary security because our lives are in danger.”
‘Maseribane said he was not aware if the police had also warned other political leaders of the possible threat to their lives.
“But we have to seriously discuss this issue and establish exactly the kind of message it’s sending,” ‘Maseribane said.
Metsing added that the police had said they would “keep tabs on our movements”.
“The police said we should not be surprised to see them patrolling the places that we frequent because our lives are truly at risk,” Metsing said.
“For police to confirm the assassination plot is ample proof that this is true. They were adamant that we need the security.”
DC deputy leader Monyane Moleleki told the meeting that he was going to inform Mosisili about the assassination plot against the three leaders.
Moleleki told a similar meeting that Mosisili as prime minister was responsible for internal security and that the protection of every political leader “is his responsibility”.
“I will take this matter to the Prime Minister because he is the minister responsible for internal security,” Moleleki said.
This assassination conspiracy claim comes barely two weeks after Metsing told his last campaign rally that there were leaders who were planning to kill him.
“There are some leaders who are unhappy with your choice of a leader. They say this one deserves to die,” Metsing said without mentioning names.
Metsing’s statement about the conspiracy to assassinate him came two days after some men allegedly handed themselves to the police claiming that they had been hired to kill him but changed their minds.
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