Thabane set for return

Thabane set for return

Staff Reporter

MASERU

EXILED opposition leaders will be home at the end of August, if SADC gets its wish.

This is after the SADC Double Troika Summit held in Botswana on Tuesday instructed its envoy, South African Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, to facilitate the return of the three leaders.

The trio, former Prime Minister Thomas Thabane, the Basotho National Party (BNP) leader Thesele ’Maseribane and leader of the Reformed Congress of Lesotho (RCL) Keketso Rantšo fled to South Africa in May last year claiming their lives were in danger.

Efforts to bring them back to Lesotho failed several times as the leaders insisted that they would not return until Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli had been removed.
Talks facilitated by the Christian Council of Lesotho between the opposition and the government also failed after the two failed to agree on the general’s removal.

“Summit called upon the Opposition leaders in exile to return by the end of August 2016 and to participate in the on-going reforms,” said the communiqué released after the summit.

“To this effect, the Summit directed the Double Troika, supported by the Facilitator, to assist on their return, and report progress to the next Summit in August, 2016.”

Mosisili told a press conference last night that he convinced the summit in Botswana that the three leaders had no good reasons to remain in South Africa and “therefore the summit felt that they should be in Lesotho at the end of this week”.

“There were suggestions that by Friday they should be here but some leaders pleaded that they should be given time hence the decision to tell Deputy President Ramaphosa to facilitate their return in August,” Mosisili said.

The prime minister said he told the summit that the three leaders did not run away from Lieutenant General Kamoli because when they fled he had not yet been reinstated as the commander of the LDF.

He said when the government approached them about coming back to Lesotho they were agreeable but set some conditions but after the SADC Commission they flatly refused to return.

The reason, he said he told the SADC summit, was that the commission had recommended the removal of Lieutenant General Kamoli and so the three leaders grabbed the opportunity and said they would not come back until he is removed.

“I told the summit that these leaders were engaging us in a debate that was never ending (ba re buhisa hloloptjane).”

RCL leader Rantšo said she is “happy that at last Ramaphosa will come to us and talk to us instead of leaving us here to go to Lesotho to discuss us with the government”.

“I have always wanted to go back home but the Lesotho government was not eager to see that hence it failed to facilitate my security,” Rantšo said.

“Contrary to the Prime Minister’s insults that we are in exile by choice, it is well known that we were running away from being killed”.

“I couldn’t and I will not wait to be killed. I want to go home and I think Ramaphosa will come and hear our side instead of hearing only one side.”

“Let’s hope the way for our return home will be paved. I’m tired of lies that are cast against us by the government,” she said.

Efforts to contact Thabane and ’Maseribane were not successful last night.
Thabane is on record as having vowed to only return to Lesotho under SADC protection because he is afraid of Lieutenant General Kamoli.

Last week Mosisili said the government is in negotiations with Lieutenant General Kamoli for an amicable solution, sparking speculation that the commander’s exit was near.

Mosisili told parliament that although the government trusts Lieutenant General Kamoli as a loyal and competent commander it had heard the “agitation, and “hysteria” around his position.

“In light of this, government has decided to engage General Kamoli on a mutually agreeable solution; and a definitive statement will be made in good time, following due process in this regards,” Mosisili said.

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