MASERU — Marematlou Freedom Party leader Moeketse Malebo says the days of conflict between the ruling Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) and opposition parties over parliamentary seats are now over.
Malebo told the Sunday Express that the feuding political parties had buried the hatchet when they signed a peace declaration at the main Moshoeshoe Day commemorations in Thaba-Bosiu on Thursday.
The declaration was an initiative of the Christian Council of Lesotho (CCL) which has been mediating in the dispute over proportional representation seats between opposition parties and the government.
“Opposition parties and the ruling party have agreed in writing that there will never be fights between us whenever there is a political misunderstanding,” Malebo said on Friday.
“Since the church is the mediator in the dispute the parties thought it would be best if we signed the declaration first.”
Malebo signed on behalf of the opposition parties while the Deputy Prime Minister Lesao Lehohla signed on behalf of the LCD.
Malebo said he was “positive” the negotiations over the proportional representation seats would succeed.
“We are confident these negotiations are going to have a good ending,” he said, adding that “there are no hard feelings between the opposition and the ruling party”.
“We just want the misunderstanding to be resolved.”
“One party was over-represented at the expense of the other,” he added.
“There are 21 seats which the ruling party is occupying which do not belong to them.
“All we want is for those seats to go where they belong.”
The ruling party, according to Malebo, had acknowledged it was over-represented and had committed itself to working with the opposition for a speedy resolution of the matter.
“The LCD has acknowledged its mistakes and is willing to negotiate to resolve the dispute,” he said.
“They have also signed the peace declaration which means they are happy about it.”
All Basotho Convention leader Thomas Thabane told the Sunday Express yesterday he knew about the declaration and would sign it tomorrow.
Thabane did not attend the Moshoeshoe Day celebrations in Thaba-Bosiu.
“I will sign the declaration on Monday,” he said.
“I have heard that it seeks to carry out peaceful negotiations in the dispute over the allocation of seats in parliament. I will sign the CCL intervention anywhere. I will be angry should it fail but will celebrate if it succeeds.”
Kelebone Maope, leader of the Lesotho People’s Congress, also said he would be signing the deal.
“I knew that the deal was going to be signed on Moshoeshoe Day,” Maope said.
“Unfortunately I was not there to sign it. But I will definitely sign it.
“The contents are exactly what we have always wanted as the opposition.
“We need peaceful negotiations to resolve our disputes.”
Basotho National Party (BNP) leader Metsing Lekhanya was not available for comment yesterday.
BNP secretary-general Ranthomeng Matete told the Sunday Express Lekhanya was away on party business in Tanzania.
LCD chairman Thabang Pheko said: “I cannot comment much on the peace deal which was signed at Thaba-Bosiu.
“What I can only say is that the LCD leadership signed.
“The committee is yet to discuss it.
“However, all we want are peaceful negotiations.”
The peace agreement, titled Thaba-Bosiu Declaration, says the signatories are “mindful of the legacy of nationhood and values of the statesmanship bequeathed us by Moshoeshoe I and all the founding fathers of this nation”.
It talks about their “commitment and dedication to the cause of peace and stability and, in that regard, of holding at all times peaceful dialogue in good faith to resolve any and all such differences of national importance among us as may occur”.
The signatories also reiterate their “commitment to peaceful negotiation to resolve the current political dispute”.