What next?

What next?

The government this week announced the departure of Lesotho army commander Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli.
Kamoli is stepping down from the helm of the army to end a tumultuous 27 months during which he was at the centre of key political developments in Lesotho beginning with the controversial events of August 30, 2014.
His departure marks a significant moment in the search for a lasting solution to Lesotho’s political problems.

The international community, led by the United States and SADC, had piled relentless pressure on the government led by Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili to let him go.
In fact, the US government has threatened to terminate the AGOA deal because of what it says is a failure to uphold the rule of law.
If that is done, it would put at risk the jobs and livelihoods of 40 000 Basotho textile workers.
Yet, in spite of the pressure, Mosisili, who has affectionately described Kamoli as a “loyal and competent” soldier, was reluctant to let the General go.

With Kamoli gone, the question that must be addressed is: What next?
How do we move Lesotho forward? This is by no means an easy question. It is a very emotive issue. But this is no time to allow emotions to overshadow reason.
In our opinion, Lesotho faces two difficult choices.
The first, which the opposition has been rooting for, is to call for accountability. The feeling is that there cannot be justice without accountability.
The second option would be to grant Kamoli immunity from prosecution for anything that he did in the course of dispensing his duties.

Such an amnesty would pave way for national healing and a new beginning.
These are difficult choices. We hold no opinion on either.
But given a choice we would go for the latter. We believe such a decision would be in Lesotho’s best interests if this country is to move forward.
We cannot continue to harp on the events of the past, no matter how painful they were. This country must look into the future and set in place mechanisms to ensure we do not have a repeat of the instability we witnessed over the past 27 months.

It should be admitted that Lesotho has gone through what has been a very difficult phase in its history. This chapter must be closed.
But we cannot move away from that sad chapter through retribution.
Of course, those who suffered loss on account of any excesses on the part of government officials, in whatever capacity, must be compensated. The government should perhaps put together an attractive package to compensate victims.

This does not mean financial compensation will heal the pain. Far from it. But it would be a significant statement to acknowledge the pain they suffered at the hands of government agents.
Going after the General would be a very unwise move. In fact, it could trigger a fresh cycle of violence and counter violence which Lesotho does not need.
The country’s complex political and social problems require a measure of stability if they are to be effectively tackled.

That stability will start with a process of true national reconciliation rather than retribution. An eye for an eye will make half of the world’s population blind.
With Kamoli out of the way, exiled opposition leaders, who include former premier Thomas Thabane, must now come back home and take their rightful place in Parliament.
The return of the exiled leaders is critical if the reform process that has already been kick-started by the government is to begin in earnest.

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