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TRC calls for SADC office in Lesotho


Billy Ntaote

THE Transformation Resource Centre (TRC) has called on SADC to open an office in the country to ensure it has a presence on the ground and continues dialogue with stakeholders during the implementation of the regional bloc’s inquiry into Lesotho’s instability.

In a statement released in response to Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili’s tabling of the SADC Commission of Inquiry report this past week, TRC Director Tšoeu Petlane said the government needed to commit to carry out the probe’s recommendations that are immediately implementable.

The SADC commission of inquiry was a 10-member team of regional legal and security experts led by Botswana judge, Justice Mpaphi Phumaphi. It was formed at the behest of Dr Mosisili after the fatal shooting of former army commander, Maaparankoe Mahao on 25 June 2015 by his military colleagues after he allegedly resisted arrest for a suspected mutiny.

The probe was held between 31 August and 23 October 2015, culminating in the 62-page report.

“TRC specifically encourages the government of Lesotho to commit to implementing those recommendations that are immediately implementable, and creating the conditions for the deliberate and systematic performance of those (recommendations) that have a longer-term timeframe,” Mr Petlane said.

“(They should also) produce a clear roadmap or time-table for the implementation of the Phumaphi recommendations as per the SADC communique of 18 January, particularly as it relates to amnesty and release of detained soldiers charged with mutiny, amnesty for exiled opposition leaders and army personnel and removal of hurdles in the way of concluding pending criminal investigations, including those into the death of Mahao.”

The TRC also called on the opposition to suspend its boycott of the National Assembly which they started on 23 June 2015 when it adjourned, protesting alleged lack of law and order which had resulted in their leaders, former prime minister and All Basotho Convention leader Thomas Thabane, Basotho National Party leader Thesele ‘Maseribane, and Reformed Congress of Lesotho leader Keketso Rantšo, seeking refuge in South Africa last May.

“TRC encourages the opposition to suspend their boycott of Parliament in order to debate the Phumaphi report and chart the way forward together,” said Mr Petlane.

On SADC’s part, the civil society organisation called on the regional bloc to open an office in Lesotho.

“TRC encourages SADC to immediately open a resident office in Maseru to ensure presence on the ground for interlocution with Lesotho stakeholders,” he said.

“(SADC should) activate the long-delayed Oversight Committee that was decided by the 3 July 2015 SADC Double Troika summit in Pretoria.”

The Oversight Committee was meant to act as an early warning mechanism in the event of instability signs in Lesotho.

“We also encourage that SADC should commit to availing all necessary resources (including expertise and continuing facilitation) to assist Lesotho implement the Phumaphi Report and SOMILES (SADC Observer Mission to the Kingdom of Lesotho) recommendations,” he said.

SOMILES was deployed under the auspices of the regional bloc’s Organ on Politics, Defence and Security after the country was plagued by political and security instability in 2014.

“SADC should also maintain solidarity with the people of Lesotho through moral and material support during this trying time that also coincide with severe drought in the country,” added Mr Petlane.


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