Lesotho: King Letsie III Must Take Charge of Army - Basotho

The Lesotho flag
10 December 2019

Basotho want the country's constitution changed to give His Majesty King Letsie III powers to take charge of the country's entire armed forces to protect them from political interference and ensure they exist only to serve the national interest.

Although the King is the commander of Lesotho' armed forces, there is no provision in the constitution officially designating him as such.

In views expressed during the outreach programme and collated by the National Dialogue Planning Committee (NDPC) for the current multi-sectoral reforms process, Basotho made it clear they want the constitution amended to give King Letsie full command of the armed forces which have been central to the instability that has plagued the Kingdom in the past.

It is only by way of granting the King full powers over the entirety of the armed forces that these can be insulated from manipulation by politicians for their own selfish ends.

Basotho also want a national security policy "that is in line with the country's constitution and strategic interests" and that clearly articulates the country's interests and guide, inform and communicate security goals, vision and priorities.

"The policy should be articulated in a framework that will be drawn and periodically revisited to reflect the changes in the strategic environment," the report collating the outreach programme reads.

The African Union Policy Framework on Security Sector Reform should be used as a departure point to formulating a comprehensive security policy for Lesotho.

Basotho noted during the outreach programme that perpetual political instability had also exposed the country to external threats and yet there was no legal framework to address that problem.

An integrated approach to the role of the security sector must be taken in pursuit and protection of the national interest while senior security and executive personnel must be conversant with national security issues.

A national security commission must also be established to guide the recruitment of security personnel who can resist political interference.

"It (the commission) will regulate the influence that political leaders have on security sector institutions and oversee the recruitment, discipline, removal of security personnel according to legislation, policy and regulations."

The report also suggests the formulation of a legal provision to establish a neutral body to handle the appointment, disciplining and removal of all service chiefs.

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