Meeting with exiled leaders flops

Meeting with exiled leaders flops

MASERU – A MEETING that had been scheduled between the government and exiled opposition leaders in Pretoria, South Africa, flopped after the opposition claimed it had not been “officially invited” for the talks.
Democratic Congress (DC)’s deputy leader, Mathibeli Mokhothu, told thepost last night that they did not go to Pretoria to meet the government delegation.

Mokhothu said they were not aware of the venue and the date of the meeting as they “had not been officially invited by the government for negotiations”. “The Deputy Prime Minister Ntate Monyane Moleleki had only notified me telephonically that they were planning to meet with us in Pretoria but he did not issue an invitation for us to attend the meeting,” Mokhothu said.

“He told me the people they had assigned to meet us and we expected that the government would work on this in collaboration with our parties.”
Mathibeli, together with Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) leader, Mothetjoa Metsing, and his deputy, Tseliso Mokhosi, fled the country in August claiming their lives were in danger.

Mathibeli said although they skipped the country as individuals they are still accountable to their parties “and we expect that issues concerning us as leaders should be dealt with in consultation with our parties”.
He said they expected that the government would negotiate with them in collaboration with their parties as the leaders belong to their parties.
He said that was the same approach the Pakalitha Mosisili-led administration took when it negotiated with the current Prime Minister Thomas Thabane and his political allies Thesele ’Maseribane and Keketso Rantšo when they were in exile in South Africa.

“We would meet with the ABC secretary general Ntate (Samonyane) Ntsekele and other representatives of the BNP and RCL and together we would agree on the venue, date and the agenda,” he said.
“We are not hostile to the meeting the government is proposing, in fact that is what we want but it should be well prepared,” he said.
Mathibeli said it is unfair that the government, as Moleleki announced over the state-owned Lesotho Television, picked senior party officials who are also ministers but did not give the opposition parties a chance to build its own delegation that will participate in the proposed meeting.
Moleleki told state media that the government was dispatching a high-powered delegation made up of Public Service Minister Thesele ’Maseribane, Keketso Rantšo who is the leader of the Reformed Congress of Lesotho (RCL), the All Basotho Convention (ABC) chairman Motlohi Maliehe and the Alliance of Democrats (AD)’s deputy leader Kabelo Mafura.

“As you can see, these are not just ministers but are top officials of the parties that have formed the coalition government,” Mokhothu said.
“So, how can the government expect us to discuss this important issue outside our parties when it is involving its parties to negotiate with us?”
He said there could be issues of conditions set for their return “and it is obvious that our parties will have to be involved in the discussions of such conditions”.

He however declined to talk about the conditions saying “that part will be discussed where it should, during the meeting with the government where our parties will be participating”. The government sent the delegation to the three leaders to negotiate their return after SADC instructed the government to call for an all-stakeholders conference to discuss the issue of reforms.

Moleleki said they cannot develop the country “when other citizens are in exile with reasons that are claimed to be political”.
However, last night Rantso said they had met one of the exiled leaders. “I cannot reveal who we have met so far. We are still in a meeting as we speak and will continue to organise meetings with others,” she said. “There will be a report tomorrow on the progress we have made.”

Nkheli Liphoto

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