Lesotho: Zuma Heads for Maseru As Army Calls for Help

Motsoahae Thomas Thabane, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Lesotho (file photo).
8 September 2014

Cape Town — South Africa's President Jacob Zuma heads for Lesotho on Tuesday, following a call by the country's army commander for its neighbours to intervene militarily to shore up the coalition government.

The official Lesotho News Agency announced Zuma's visit on Monday. The news came after the army commander, Lieutenant General Maaparankoe Mahao, told Agence France-Presse on Sunday that he was calling on the region for military assistance against the former army commander, Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli, who is refusing to step down.

Prime Minister Tom Thabane fled Lesotho 10 days ago after Kamoli sent troops onto the streets and to police stations in what Thabane alleged was a coup attempt. Kamoli had been dismissed by King Letsie III on Thabane's initiative.

Thabane returned last week under South African protection after intervention by regional political leaders. But Lesotho's Sunday Express newspaper is reporting that that General Mahao is unable to secure control over the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF).

And one of Thabane's coalition partners, Thesele ‘Maseribane, has told the Express that Kamoli has seized LDF's weapons.

“The armory, as we speak, is empty because all weapons have been seized by Kamoli and taken to Setibing, which is the military’s main training camp,” ‘Maseribane said.

He told the Express: “We need to address the security situation and implement the change of command."

Parliament is due to reconvene -- after being suspended by Thabane in June -- on September 19. But ‘Maseribane indicated that this could not happen until the army was under control.

"How are MPs expected to go to Parliament when their security is compromised?” he asked.

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