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We turned down Thabane’s coalition overtures: LCD

’Marafaele Mohloboli

THE Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) says it turned down overtures by Prime Minister Thomas Thabane for the two parties to work together in an arrangement that would save the embattled premier’s government from a looming no confidence vote that could lead to its collapse.

LCD spokesperson Teboho Sekata recently said that Dr Thabane sent two of his lieutenants, Defence and National security minister Tefo Mapesela and his Forestry, Range and Soil Conservation counterpart, Malimong Mohlajoa to discuss ways in which the LCD could work with Dr Thabane to save his government from collapse.

Mr Mapesela’s mobile phone rang unanswered when the Sunday Express called this weekend for comment. Mr Mohlajoa was not reachable on his mobile phone.

However, Mr Sekata said they refused to negotiate any deal to save Dr Thabane, adding the only discussions they were prepared to entertain were those in connection with the formation of a government of national unity (GNU) to replace the current four party coalition. Dr Thabane’s All Basotho Convention (ABC) is currently in a coalition with Deputy Prime Minister Monyane Moleleki’s Alliance of Democrats (AD), Communications minister Thesele Maseribane’s Basotho National Party (BNP) and Labour minister Keketso Rantšo’s Reformed Congress of Lesotho (RCL).

However, the two year-old coalition faces a no confidence vote in parliament instigated by the Professor Nqosa Mahao-led faction of the ABC. The Mahao faction enjoys the support of the main opposition Democratic Congress (DC) and other opposition parties.

Mr Metsing’s LCD has however, refrained from taking sides in the issue, saying it will support whichever side agrees to its proposal for a GNU to replace the current government.

There have been widespread allegations however, that Mr Metsing and Dr Thabane negotiated a secret deal for a new coalition that will see the opposition leader take up the post of second Deputy Prime Minister alongside Mr Moleleki. It has been said that Mr Metsing and his party would be included in this new coalition in exchange for voting against the no confidence motion. Despite the widespread rumours, the LCD insists there is no such deal.

However, LCD spokesperson, Mr Sekata said Dr Thabane made overtures to them for a deal to save his administration from collapse. He said Dr Thabane sent Messrs Mapesela and Mohlajoa after the no confidence motion was tabled in June but the LCD flatly refused to entertain any talk of saving the coalition. Rather- according to Mr Sekata- the LCD was only prepared to entertain talks over an all-inclusive GNU. He said the LCD has not taken any sides in the ABC power struggle and it is willing to engage with whichever ABC faction is amenable to a GNU.

“We condemn in the strongest form the propaganda that’s being spread that we are going to support the Prime Minister (Dr Thabane) against the no confidence motion. It is being falsely claimed that we support him to stay in power,” said Mr Sekata.

“The truth is that they once approached us for talks proposing that we work together to save their government now that there was a motion of no confidence looming, but we turned them down.

“We have no intention of engaging in talks to save their government but we are ready to work with whoever embraces our ideology of a GNU as we believe it is the only route to peace and stability.

“We are unshaken and very clear that we are only determined to work with whoever wants to work with us on a GNU.”

He said the GNU was best placed to implement the constitutional, security sector, media, parliamentary, judicial and governance reforms that were recommended by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in 2016.

The implementation of the reforms is seen as crucial to achieving lasting peace and stability without which socio-economic development cannot take p0lace in the country.

Mr Sekata’s remarks were echoed by the LCD Youth League President, Napo Mohapi, who told the Sunday Express that now that their position on the GNU was very clear, they expected Dr Thabane to reciprocate by stating whether or not he supports the idea of a GNU.

“We have made it very clear that we want a GNU and it is time Ntate Thabane made his stance clear on the issue. We want to know whether he or not he buys into the idea.

“We are unshaken in our standpoint on the GNU and nothing will dissuade us. We don’t support Ntate Thabane. All that we are saying is that since he is prime minister, we can give him an option to remain in power (by accepting a new GNU).

“But if he does not share our position on the establishment of a GNU, then we shall be forced to join all those who support the motion of no confidence against him,” Mr Mohapi said.

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