Knives out for US envoy

Knives out for US envoy

Staff Reporter

MASERU

THE spokesperson for the Lesotho People’s Congress (LPC), Bokang Ramatšella, says the government should expel the US Ambassador Matthews Harrington or else he will do it himself.

Ramatšella told thepost last night that Harrington’s stay in the country is no longer welcome to him and those he shares political views with because “he is the one hell-bent on seeing Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli fired”.

He said Harrington “is determined to confuse this country and cause civil strife” and there is “an urgent need to expel him before he could cause more harm”.

“As I am talking to you now, we are working on kicking him out of our country. If this government does not want to expel him, we will,” Ramatšella said.

“I want it be put on record that I say we do not want him in this country,” he said.

Ramatšella made similar verbal attacks on Harrington on Tšenolo FM, a privately owned radio station viewed as sympathetic to the government.

Ramatšella said he wants Harrington out of Lesotho because he wants Lesotho to lose its eligibility to the Africa Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA) “knowing well that over 40 000 Basotho will lose their jobs so that they can turn against the government and topple it”.

“We do not want this man in the country anymore,” he said.

“It is a well-known fact that this issue of AGOA caused workers and local civil societies (sic) to march in protest saying Lieutenant General Kamoli should be expelled. Harrington knows the impact of this AGOA issue and he wants to use it for his personal interests”.

Ramatšella however refuted allegations that he threatened to kill Harrington as insinuated by a rumour that went rival throughout the better part of this week.

The allegations of a threat on his life intensified on Tuesday when Harrington left the country, triggering speculation that he had been spooked by Ramatšella’s alleged threats.

Police spokesman Superintendent Clifford Molefe confirmed that Harrington was out of the country but said “he is on official business and we cannot reveal his whereabouts for security reasons”.

In an e-mail to thepost, the US Embassy said it was aware of Ramatšella’s comments.

“While discussion of policy differences is entirely appropriate, direct threats against specific diplomats are unacceptable,” the embassy said.

“We have full confidence in the government to fulfil its obligation under the Vienna Convention to ensure the safety of diplomats assigned to Lesotho,” it said, adding that Harrington “is taking a previously scheduled vacation”.

Government spokesman, Communications Minister Khotso Letsatsi, said relations between Lesotho and the United States are good.

He said if there is anything the US is worried about “doors are always open for talks”.

Letsatsi said he did not hear Ramatšella’s verbal attacks against Harrington and therefore “I cannot say anything about it.”

“All I can say is that that person is not the government spokesperson and therefore whatever he said does not come from the government. The government’s stance is that Lesotho’s relations with America are good,” Letsatsi said.

“People are saying many wrong things in this country and it is not the government saying those things. They write and say things that are dangerous,” he said.

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