On Monday 1 February 2016, two important events are scheduled in Lesotho that stand to have important effects on the country's prospects for peace and stability and to indicate the effectiveness of Southern African Development Community (SADC) processes and diplomacy.
While Lesotho has faced cyclic security and political crises, the seriousness of SADC's interventions and investment over the past two years have come to a head in recent threats of suspending Lesotho from SADC and in efforts to push domestic reforms through the SADC-initiated Commission of Inquiry established in late 2015.
1 February marks the deadline given by SADC for Lesotho to publish the Commission's findings and to report to SADC on the government's implementation of its recommendations. The government's repeated efforts at resisting the Commission processes, SADC's strong stance in insisting on the government's cooperation, and the delicate security situation underlying the government's reliance on the support of the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF), indicate that any action taken or refused to be taken by the Lesotho government on this date will have serious consequences.
Secondly, 1 February marks the resumption of a Court Martial set up by the LDF to try soldiers charged with plotting a mutiny. The arrests and detention of these soldiers and the procedures surrounding the Court Martial have raised serious human rights concerns coupled with the threat that the accused face the death penalty if convicted.
In addition, the SADC Commission's Terms of Reference include a requirement to review the mutiny-plot investigations. With the release of the controversial Commission report anticipated on the same day, the future of the Court Martial process stands in question.
SALC has prepared a Press Briefing and Q&A to provide information and context in matters relating to the political and security crisis in Lesotho in order to give context to events anticipated on Monday, 1 February 2016.