ABC factions sign deal

ABC factions sign deal

………… Deal to pave way for dialogue………

MASERU– THE warring All Basotho Convention (ABC) factions have signed a ceasefire deal that will pave way for negotiations to break the impasse. Since Monday the factions had been haggling over a deal to settle their raging dispute out of court.
The pact was eventually reached yesterday, with the parties committing to a negotiation that will be mediated by an assistant registrar of the court.

The court order that concretises the negotiations was signed by Justice Maseforo Mahase last night.
The order says the squabbling parties agree to an out of court settlement that should be concluded on or before March 19.

That means they have only 14 days to find each other and resolve the dispute that is threatening to tear the ABC apart.
The temporary order which says the old committee should remain in office has been extended to March 20.

The court order says if the parties fail to agree the High Court will hear the case on March 20 and deliver judgement on March 29.
Under the agreement the old committee will suspend its contemplated disciplinary hearing against Lebohang Hlaele, the secretary general in the new committee, who is accused of fraudulently acquiring the party’s official stamp and using it to hire a lawyer to defend his committee.
The factions also agree not to speak about party issues in the media until the negotiations are over.

The order says the parties accept to hold the negotiations in “good faith” and attend the negotiations with their legal representatives.
Party insiders who spoke to thepost last night said they foresee a bumpy ride along the way.
They said although the factions agree that the party’s unity comes first, they remain far apart on how to resolve their differences.

At the core of the dispute, they say, is the validity of the election process that brought the Professor Nqosa Mahao-led committee into power.
The old committee says the election was not free and fair because the number of votes cast was more than the delegates at the conference. They therefore want the court to nullify the results and order a fresh election.

Senior party insiders however old thepost that there is no chance that the new committee will agree to a fresh election.
“This goes down to legitimacy of the new committee and that is the issue that will make or break the negotiations,” the official said.
“This is probably the first time in the history of political parties in this country that an election result has been negotiated. The new committee simply doesn’t believe that its election is negotiable.”

He said he foresees the negotiations crumbling when the parties discuss what to do with the election results.
“The new committee is unlikely to agree to a fresh election because they are not even sure that they will win it. The ultimate prize for the old committee is a new election because that will give them another shot,” he said.

Another official said while he appreciates the agreement to negotiate he doesn’t believe it will amount to much by way of a solution.
“So far the parties have agreed to talk about talks. They have not even reached an agreement on the agenda. I see the negotiations collapsing even before they agree on an agenda,” he said.

“I am not optimistic. The talks are worth trying but I don’t think the factions will reach an agreement.”

Staff Reporter

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