9 June 2017

Lesotho: Metsing Makes Shock Army Claims

LESOTHO Congress for Democracy (LCD) leader Mothetjoa Metsing has said the outgoing seven-party government, of which he is deputy prime minister, would not have attained power in 2015 were it not for the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF).

Mr Metsing has also said the LDF would need to be "protected" from Prime Minister-elect Thomas Thabane who sealed an agreement yesterday with three other parties to form government.

Mr Metsing made the remark on Monday while addressing LCD supporters awaiting the results of last Saturday's parliamentary elections at the party's headquarters next to the 'Manthabiseng Convention Centre, from where they were being announced by the Independent Electoral Commission.

The elections were precipitated by the passing of a parliamentary no-confidence vote on the seven-party government, of which the LCD is a part, on 1 March 2015. The no-confidence vote was sponsored by the All Basotho Convention (ABC), Alliance of Democrats (AD), Basotho National Party (BNP) and Reformed Congress of Lesotho (RCL) which yesterday cobbled up their 63 seats to form the next government.

The LCD managed to garner 11 seats.

Mr Metsing told the LCD supporters to take the outcome of the elections by the chin and accept that they had done their best during the campaign period.

"It was not our intention to have the number of constituencies we have at the moment. Our expectation was that we would have won many constituencies," he said.

"But we should all accept that we have fought a good fight and we are where we are because we only make plans, while God fulfils.

"I don't have any doubt that at this juncture people will start accusing one another, saying what happened is because of the other. I say we should not point fingers but accept that we have indeed fought a necessary battle and as you know, we are now looking forward to the final figures."

Mr Metsing also urged the LCD faithful to be accommodative of coalitions with their perceived opponents.

"And you should accept that your leadership will negotiate with other party leaders that those who are willing could join us to work together.

"The truth is that some of us are fearful of our opponents, but we might end up knocking at our rivals' doors for the simple reason that we might invite those who may not be needed by other, so we can work together."

The deputy premier said the army needed to be "protected" for their role in propping up the outgoing government.

"Let me tell you that it is because of members of this country's army who put their necks on the block that we ended up taking power, and if today Thabane attains power, it is clear that some of them would be in danger," he said.

"There are some people whose future should be protected by us, regardless of our individual aspirations. This is our obligation and I am surprised that some LCD members don't want us to approach (Selibe) Mochoboroane, while on the other hand some DC (Democratic Congress) followers do not want (Monyane) Moleleki to be approached. "

Mr Mochoboroane is a former LCD secretary-general who jumped ship earlier this year to found the Movement for Economic Change (MEC). The MEC garnered six seats during last Saturday's polls.

Mr Moleleki left the DC to found the AD last December. The AD pooled its nine seats with the ABC, BNP and RCL yesterday to form the Lesotho's third coalition government.

"You should leave it to your leadership because what we have to do now is to save the nation and our country," he said.

Mr Metsing has been accused of collaborating with the LDF in his political fights, although he and the military have vehemently denied the allegations.

ABC leader and former premier Thomas Thabane accused Mr Metsing of helping to plan an LDF raid on three key Maseru police stations on the morning of 30 August 2014 which the former described as a coup attempt.

The raid, which left one police officer dead, triggered a chain of unsavoury events that led to the collapse of the Dr Thabane-led coalition government and intervention by the international community in an effort to avert a complete breakdown of the rule of law in Lesotho.

The LDF later described the manoeuvres as a special operation to foil a police plan to give civilians firearms for use during a LCD street protest scheduled for 1 September 2014 -- a claim the police and Dr Thabane dismissed out of hand.

Efforts to contact LCD spokesperson Teboho Sekata and LDF spokesperson Brigadier Ntlele Ntoi for comment were fruitless last night.

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