Define parameters of dialogue

Define parameters of dialogue

WARRING factions within the ruling All Basotho Convention (ABC) party this week signed a ceasefire agreement that will pave way for dialogue to resolve a bitter leadership tussle that has dogged the party.
The ABC has been at war with itself since early February when a faction led by Professor Nqosa Mahao was swept into power following a landslide victory.

That emphatic victory was the beginning of a period of what has proved to be unprecedented turmoil for the ABC.
It is a period that has seen party leader, Thomas Thabane, and luminaries within the party being subjected to vile insults.
Yet the agreement signed between the two sides could go up in smoke if the parametres of the dialogue and what it should lead to are not carefully defined.

At the centre of the whole dispute is the issue of the legitimacy of the electoral process that swept the new executive committee into power.
Without resolving that issue of legitimacy, the ABC risks expending its energies on peripheral issues.
That would set a dangerous precedent for the future.

As a democratic party the ABC must be seen to be upholding principles of democracy and the rights of members to elect and be elected into office.

Any backdoor deal that would seek to overturn the February electoral result which was an expression of the will of the people would be a serious negation of the democratic principle.

We would expect that the Mahao faction will seek to defend its victory at the elective conference. We suppose they will want to argue that they won elections cleanly and that they should therefore be allowed to assume office.
That is a pretty sound argument.

We would want to believe that the losing faction must magnanimously accept that it lost the elections and go back to the drawing board. That is how politics should work.

We would find it quite odd if the Mahao faction were to accept that its victory was null and void and thereafter surrender the initiative to the losing faction.

As things stand, the Mahao faction has the upper hand and will call the shots.
As we have argued in previous editorials, this is a political dispute that can only be resolved politically.
The party must not allow the courts to meddle in what is purely a political matter.

As party leader, Prime Minister Thomas Thabane must now provide leadership during the dialogue to pave way for a smooth handover.
It’s either he does so or risk seeing his beloved ABC imploding into irrelevance. The risk of a split also remains alive as the party is sharply divided.

There are even fears that it could trigger a bloody fight among party cadres, with talk of assassinations and counter-plots being the order of the day.

As an elder statesman, Thabane must bring the two sides together. Insulting or antagonizing one faction will not work to break the impasse.
We are aware that this is a party that Thabane formed from scratch. He must now salvage the party.
The ABC therefore faces two options: it can either implode or regenerate itself through leadership renewal. We hope Thabane will nudge the party towards the latter.

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