POLICE blocked supporters and well-wishers of Democratic Congress (DC) deputy leader Monyane Moleleki from entering Moshoeshoe I International Airport to welcome him home on Friday from a working visit to Russia and Iran.
The armed Special Operations Unit (SOU) and regular police officers eventually fired water cannons and teargas to disperse the gathering.
Apart from DC supporters, the crowd also consisted of All Basotho Convention (ABC), Basotho National Party, Reformed Congress of Lesotho and Lesotho People’s Congress members among others.
Described by the lead organiser of the event and DC Youth League President Thuso Litjobo as a “vehicle convoy”, the procession was meant to show support to Mr Moleleki whom he said was “under attack” from his foes in the DC and seven-party coalition government.
The convoy was scheduled to escort Mr Moleleki, who is also Police minister, to his Qoatsaneng Hill home in Ha Tsautse.
Only a few DC officials, who included Rothe constituency legislator Manthabiseng Phohleli, were allowed to enter the airport along with regular travellers.
A fuming Mr Litjobo told the Sunday Express the police were being used by Mr Moleleki’s detractors to settle political scores. He said Mr Moleleki faced a “huge task of ensuring the police service was depoliticised”.
“There are people who are always meddling in police affairs during Ntate Moleleki’s absence to further their own political agendas,” he said.
“This was my first time feeling the effects of the water cannons which I now realise contain a chemical that causes the skin to itch. The people who came to welcome Ntate Moleleki have red-eyes because of the tear-gas used by the police.”
Mr Litjobo reiterated his claim that there were plans to either assassinate, fire or arrest Mr Moleleki.
Mr Moleleki, who leads a DC faction dubbed Lirurubele (butterflies), has admitted elsewhere in this edition to be in the process of negotiating a coalition pact to oust the Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili-led government with former premier and ABC leader Thomas Thabane.
“We learnt of plans to fire the Police minister, who is also our party’s deputy leader, hence this convoy. We wanted to see who would have the audacity to do such a thing,” he said.
“We also learnt of an assassination plot against our deputy leader if he is not fired from office. We are shocked that this infighting in our party has come to this. We also learnt that there were plans to arrest him upon his arrival at the airport hence this escort.”
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