Lesotho on road to redemption

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Timo Shihepo

The Kingdom of Lesotho has taken a giant step towards resolving the internal political crisis, which has plagued the southern African nation for four years.

Lesotho has been battling political instability since 2014 brought upon by two main rivals, incumbent prime minister, Thomas Thabane and former prime minister, Pakalitha Mosisili.

The unseating of Mosisili as prime minister escalated political tensions in Lesotho, which resulted in the death of former Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) Commander Brigadier Maaparankoe Mahao, who was fatally shot by fellow members of LDF in 2017. Two soldiers were also killed while others were injured.

Several people, mostly former soldiers, have fled to the mountains, while others are still living in exile.

In an effort to restore peace and freedom in the small kingdom, the country held a multi-stakeholder national dialogue from 26 to 28 November.

The leaders of the Lesotho Coalition Government, leaders of Lesotho’s opposition political parties and leaders of the various civil society organisations in the country attended the dialogue.  

According to a communiqué, the national dialogue was part of Lesotho’s long-standing effort to commit itself to participate in an inclusive, participatory, democratic, transparent and comprehensive reform process.

This was a pledge made in 2017, when the country undertook to prioritise national reforms after the June 2017 general elections.

The dialogue was also partly initiated by the Southern African Development Community (SADC), which asked for Lesotho to implement SADC decisions and recommendations.   

In 2014, under the report of the SADC Observer Mission to Lesotho (SOMILES) and the Lesotho Reforms Roadmap, the regional body made recommendations for a long-term solution towards achieving political and security stability.

Despite various efforts, The Southern Times understands that the exiles have all not returned to participate in the dialogue.   

Nevertheless, Lesotho’s King Letsie III said unlike previous forums and engagements, the dialogue dealt with substantive issues, which are constitutional, parliamentary, judicial, security, public service, media and economic reforms.

“All these reforms require modification in order to promote peace and stability in the Mountain Kingdom,” said King Letsie III.

The dialogue further invited all stakeholders, non-government organisations and other entities to make submissions in writing to the Lesotho National Dialogue Planning Committee (NDPC) before 15 January 2019 so that submissions shall be consolidated into a report, which shall also be presented to the National Leaders’ Forum.

King Letsie III said it is agreed that the NDPC shall review and consolidate the reports of the breakout groups of the national dialogue and from the issues raised therein to develop proposals for consideration and decision by the second plenary of the national dialogue.

Additionally, King Letsie III said the dialogue mandated them to fully and effectively implement recommendations of plenary one in line with the roadmap by embarking on a thorough district and local consultation in order to get input from ordinary Basotho about the Lesotho they want.

“The plenary confirms the resolute commitment by all stakeholders for constitutional reform and the determination to achieve peace and stability as well as reforms in all other agreed areas. The plenary further recognises and commends the participants for their political maturity, respect and their commitment to this important milestone, which will culminate in the Lesotho we want,” said King Letsie III.

The national dialogue also noted that there is a need for a structure, which shall process the recommendations of the second national multi-stakeholder dialogue for legislation and constitutional reforms.

The composition of the structure shall be agreed to by the national leaders forum and be presented to the next plenary. 

 

 

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