Lesotho Congress for Democracy leader Mothetjoa Metsing has expressed fears that he and others could be sentenced to death for treason.
The former deputy prime minister expressed his fears while addressing LCD supporters at a weekend rally in his Leribe constituency. He also called on party members to seek divine intervention against the "very dangerous issue" of the treason charges.
A fortnight ago, Mr Metsing was charged with treason alongside Movement for Economic Change (MEC) leader Selibe Mochoboroane, former army commander Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli and an army officer Captain Litekanyo Nyakane.
The charges are in connection with the 30 August 2014 attempted coup against the first government of current Prime Minister Thomas Thabane.
The trial has however, been put on hold pending the outcome of Messrs Metsing and Mochoboroane's Constitutional Court application for an order barring the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Advocate Hlalefang Motinyane, from prosecuting them on the grounds that an October 2018 agreement between the governing coalition and the opposition offers them immunity from prosecution for any crime until after the completion of the multi-sector reforms.
The October 2018 agreement paved way for Mr Metsing and other opposition leaders, who had been in exile, to return to Lesotho to participate in the processes towards the implementation of constitutional, security sector, media, judicial and governance reforms recommended by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in 2016.
Among other things, clause 10 of the agreement states that "Mr Metsing and similarly placed persons in exile will not be subjected to any pending criminal proceedings during the dialogue and reforms process".
It remains to be seen how the Constitutional Court will decide on the latest application as it had previously outlawed this particular clause 10 of the agreement between the government and the opposition. Messrs Metsing want the court to review and set aside its previous judgment.
A treason conviction is punishable by death or life imprisonment.
Mr Metsing told his supporters he feared being sentenced to death and described the treason charges as "dangerous". He pleaded for divine intervention.
"This is a very dangerous issue and should we lose this case it means that I shall immediately be locked up and denied bail or be sentenced to death," said Mr Metsing.
"It is therefore my appeal that we handle this matter with care and you (LCD supporters) should go back to our God and seek his intervention."
Mr Metsing said he was shocked that he and others had been slapped with the treason charges as they contravened the SADC-brokered government-opposition agreement that he and others should not be charged with any crimes at least until after the implementation of the multi-sector reforms.
"It is quite surprising to see how the whole matter is being handled. I wasn't expecting the treason charges. In order to get a better understanding of what could really be happening, I approached the prime minister and his deputy, Mr Monyane Moleleki and they both told me that they know nothing about the whole issue and have no interest in the treason charges whatsoever.
"This shocked me because even the minister of police doesn't seem to know anything except that the case is being directed by the Director of Public Prosecutions (Adv Motinyane). I'm tempted to ask as about where the DPP gets all the powers to act unilaterally. This is quite complex and my suspicion is that there is a low intensity and undeclared coup happening in the government. I am left to infer that this issue has been personalised by some people within the All Basotho Convention (ABC), whom we have fallen out with before... .," said Mr Metsing.
In a separate interview, Mr Metsing reiterated his claim that Police Commissioner Holomo Molibeli had only been appointed by Prime Minister Thabane to thwart investigations into the latter's alleged role in the 14 June 2017 murder of his estranged wife, Lipolelo.
Mr Metsing said Commissioner Molibeli had only turned against Dr Thabane and implicated the latter in the Lipolelo case after the premier had initiated moves to replace the police commissioner.
"Former Police Commissioner Molahlehi Letsoepa once approached me after his appointment to that post and told me that Thabane had told him that he had to dismantle the investigations team that was working on Lipolelo Thabane's murder as he could see that they wanted to arrest his wife," Mr Metsing told the Lesotho Times.
"I think that the current commissioner (Molibeli) was hired specifically for that (stopping the murder investigations) because Letsoepa failed to do so. There is no sense of justice and genuineness in the recent murder charges against the prime minister and his wife, 'Maesaiah. This is just a leverage that Molibeli is using because he faces the prospect of being booted out. He is now blackmailing the prime minister because he (Commissioner Molibeli) has some dirt on him.
"Police have always known the truth about this murder but kept it under wraps for reasons best known to them and now they are using it to get on equal footing and this definitely makes them accomplices to the crime because they sat on the evidence."
His allegations were however, rejected by Commissioner Molibeli who said the assertions "defied all logic".
"The fact that Ntate Metsing is speculating in his allegations is not right. He (Mr Metsing) should get his facts right. I did not start working on the case because I was being booted out and I am not using this case in any way to fight my personal battles. What he (Mr Metsing) is saying defies all logic and he should know that he is wrong," Commissioner Molibeli.