SADC talks tough

SADC talks tough

MASERU – BOTSWANA President Ian Khama has strongly responded to Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili’s harsh letter of complaint to the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

In a brief letter to King Letsie III Khama warned that if Lesotho insists that SADC’s decision to oversee security during election is tantamount to sovereignty violation Botswana will withdraw its people her for the June 3 election.

“If Lesotho feels that the collective and relentless efforts by the regional leaders in finding a lasting political and security solution is a direct violation of her sovereignty, then Botswana will consider withdrawing her representatives currently serving in the SADC Oversight Committee in Lesotho,” Khama said.

Swaziland’s King Mswati III, who is SADC chairperson, also responded to Mosisili’s letter. He said the SADC Extraordinary Summit’s decision “were made in the spirit of supporting the Kingdom of Lesotho to address political and security challenges, and in solidarity and in brotherhood”.

“The decision are in line with the SADC Treaty and SADC Protocol on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation,” King Mswati said.
“May I encourage you, and the government of the Kingdom of Lesotho to continue implementing Summit decision, and cooperate with all relevant SADC structures assigned to the Kingdom of Lesotho by SADC.”

Mosisili had written to the SADC Chairman King Mswati III of Swaziland saying the regional bloc’s decision to send its facilitator Cyril Ramaphosa and the Oversight Committee as security overseers during election violates Lesotho’s sovereignty.

Mosisili also said Lesotho views “with disdain” the regional bloc’s communiqué that Ramaphosa and the Oversight Committee “would be charged with the responsibility to monitor the political and security situation”.

He further indicated that this will allow “these two SADC structures to gradually gnaw into the very fabric of sovereignty.
Khama in his capacity as the chair of the SADC Double Troika on Politics, Defence and Security has expressed his concern that Mosisili has interpreted SADC’s involvement in Lesotho as interference of the country’s sovereignty.

Khama said their understanding is that SADC’s involvement in Lesotho is in accordance with the letter and spirit of the SADC’s principles and objectives, as well as an exercise of solidarity and brotherhood.

Mosisili has complained that SADC has given Ramaphosa who is the faciltator to Lesotho’s political crisis and the SADC Oversight Committee “yet another spurious responsibility to conduct a multi- stakeholder national dialogue” ahead of the election.

Lesotho will hold the national assembly election on 3rd June this year.
The Prime Minister also told SADC in the letter that preparations for the national dialogue “have now been overtaken by the dissolution of parliament and preoccupation with arrangements for general elections by all stakeholders’’.

Khama further indicated in his letter that it should be borne in mind that SADC Member State’s unwavering support to Lesotho’s efforts of consolidating democracy, peace and stability has come with huge financial and other costs.

The letter was copied to all members of the Double Troika, the Facilitator in Lesotho’s political issues, Deputy President of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa, Chairperson, SADC Oversight Committee and SADC Executive Secretary.

When contacted before going to press yesterday, Prime Minister‘s attaché Motumi Ralejoe said SADC issues are usually attended to by the Heads of Government but in this case it seems like they are being discussed by the Heads of State.
King Letsie III’s Office could not be reached for comment.

Majara Molupe

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