LDF boss pledges to professionalise army

LDF boss pledges to professionalise army

MASERU  – Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) commander Lieutenant general Mojalefa Letsoela has pledged to professionalise the army and subject it to the will of the people. “I therefore make a pledge or commitment to the government of the day, to you all that I will do everything in my power to ensure that this country has a professional, apolitical army that every Mosotho will be proud of,” he said.

“I am confident that our army is well aware of its role in a democratic dispensation and in particular that it is subservient to civilian authority, one thing that some soldiers were beginning to forget to the detriment of the country and the nation at large.”
Letsoela was speaking at the change of guard at Ratjomose Military Barracks

He said the root cause of Lesotho’s political crisis could be found in the army’s meddling in politics.
“Under my command I will ensure that the rule of law reigns supreme, and membership of being in the military should not be used as licence to undermine this sacrosanct principle, soldiers who break the law will be handed over to the police like anyone else.
“They are mere citizens in uniform,” he said.
The army commander said the LDF had morphed into a pariah institution and “was no longer seen as a protector of the people but their enemy”.
“This will come to an end as I am going to ensure that the army itself (behaves) in a manner befitting the purpose it was created for,” he said.
“I once again make a solemn pledge that as the army we will leave politics to the politicians and the latter will greatly help by refraining from doing things that will strain the undertaking, all we want is peace, security and prosperity for our people and I stand here to ask for forgiveness for the army’s past transgressions,” Letsoela said.

He also said criminal activities were hidden under the umbrella of authorised operations. “On behalf of Lesotho Defence Force we are sorry because most of you have been hurt in different ways,” he added.
“I thank you the Almighty that I shall not disrespect you and the nation at large,” he added.
The outgoing acting commander, Major General Lineo Poopa, said he was confident that the newly appointed commander is capable of leading the LDF to greener pastures.

“I have known you for some years and I know your capabilities,” he added.
“I want to assure you that you have a mammoth task ahead of you, because you are leading the soldiers who had for the past years till now are confused as to what are lawful orders and where do they differ from unlawful orders, please resolve this confusion urgently,” Gen Poopa said.
The Chief of Staff Major General Poqa Motoa said it is important for the soldiers to do everything that the commander will command, “but most importantly (what) the prime ministers commands,” Motoa said.

He also said as soldiers they do not make a pledge on a particular person or political parties but the constitution.
“We are ready to listen to everything said by our commander so that we become the hope of the nation not the enemy,” he added.
Deputy Prime Minister Monyane Moleleki said Lesotho’s biggest problem has been the tendency by weak leaders who want to mislead the military.
“I will seriously call upon the present leaders of the army to avoid this unfortunate state of affairs,” he said.
He said good defence management and healthy civil military relations should be premised on the assumption of the existence of good governance of any country.

“In the recent past the perception was that the LDF was out of control,” he added.
He said the truth however is that weak and unpatriotic politicians have tendency to abuse the army by using it for regime security, party political goals and the quest for the entrenchment of personal power.

“Given this sad backdrop, it is our sincere conviction that the reforms shall place strong emphasis on definition of the roles and procedures for employment in the army in a democratic dispensation,” he added.

He said the Lesotho Defence Force was not aligned with the principles governing the role of a defence force in a democracy.
“To change this situation, the present government will work very closely with SADC and our international co-operating partners in the implementation of recommendations of the Justice Phumaphi Commission of Inquiry,” he said.

Nkheli Liphoto

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