9 March 2017

Lesotho: Nation Not Ready for Elections, Says Former PM Thabane

Lesotho's former prime minister Tom Thabane says the mountainous kingdom is not ready for elections, citing security concerns.

Thabane's remarks came after the country's King Letsie moved to dissolve parliament this week after Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili, who is also the leader of the Democratic Congress (DC) party lost a confidence vote. This, consequently, paved was for an election within three months.

Mosisili had headed a coalition government since a snap election in 2015 that was called in an effort to end the country's prolonged power struggles.

But the coalition recently became fragmented, and parliament voted in favour of Monyane Moleleki to replace Mosisili. Moleleki's Alliance of Democrats (AD) party split from the DC last year.

In an interview with News24, Thabane said that the dissolving of parliament by the country's monarch was "unfortunate".

He also said that organising an election was going to be a costly exercise and could have been avoided if Mosisili had not "rushed to the King to call for an election".

'I divide my time between South Africa and Lesotho'

"The dissolving of parliament was unfortunate and could have been avoided if there was no desire to rearrange parliament through a vote. It is not something that I would personally smile about, as the decision to tell the King to dissolve parliament was not a good one. It is going to be a costly exercise," said Thabane.

He, however, said that his party, the All Basotho Convention (ABC), was ready to contest the election.

Thabane said that the ABC together with other opposition parties were going to take the election exercise "very maturely", and would tell the electorate about the outgoing prime minister's abuse of office.

"The reason we have not supported the call for an election is that of security problems that have not yet been resolved. For instance I divide my time between South Africa and Lesotho because of fears on my life. There are other major problems we have not resolved. Therefore, we do not think that elections are going to be free and fair. But we are ready to contest those elections even if they can be called tomorrow," said Thabane.

The country was plunged into a political crisis after a failed coup attempt in 2014, prompting Thabane to flee to South Africa, saying he feared for his life.

Biggest failure

Thabane recently returned home with two other opposition leaders, vowing to win back power.

Taking a swipe at Mosisili, Thabane said if only the constitutional processes had been allowed to take place, a new majority party would have emerged in parliament.

He accused Mosisili of having failed to implement the resolutions that were taken by the regional bloc, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) task team.

"The biggest failure by the outgoing prime minister was ignoring the SADC calls for reforms in the military, particularly its involvement on issues of civilian politics," he said.

Thabane said he was going to meet with the king on Thursday afternoon to discuss "some important issues" affecting the country.

Source: News 24

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