Thabane courts opposition

Thabane courts opposition

. . . as Mosisili pushes for Kamoli’s release

MASERU – PRIME Minister Thomas Thabane says SADC’s role in Lesotho’s long anticipated national reforms is most welcome because of the bloc’s neutrality.
Addressing opposition party leaders not represented in parliament on the reforms last Friday, Thabane allayed fears that the reforms will be skewed towards the ruling parties.
“All reforms dialogues will be led by SADC as it is a neutral party,” Thabane said.

“SADC will play a lead role in facilitating the political-level national dialogue through the National Leaders Forum and provide a supportive presence in the other levels of the dialogue,” he said.
Thabane also said the Christian Council of Lesotho (CCL) and the civil society, women and youth organisations will play a pivotal role in steering the dialogue.
He said the College of Chiefs and all political parties will be included in the dialogue.

Thabane said the National Dialogue Planning Committee (NDPC) will be inclusive so that all processes of the dialogue will be seen neutral and objective.
The prime minister said this at a time when he is in talks with his predecessor Pakalitha Mosisili to break the impasse over the reforms.
The opposition has refused to participate in the reforms until its leaders return from exile.

Mosisili later told thepost that the opposition will not take part in any reforms processes unless their demands are met.
Mosisili said he told Thabane that he must release former army boss Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli who has been in jail for months awaiting a battery of charges that include murder and attempted murder.

“Lt Gen Kamoli is still in detention. His case is delayed. It is even worrisome because he has been denied bail,” he said.
Mosisili said Lt Gen Kamoli has been in detention for ten months. He also said he told Thabane that his political ally, the self-exiled leader of the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) Mothetjoa Metsing, should come back home and his safety guaranteed.

“We want Metsing and his deputy Tšeliso Mokhosi to be part of the reforms and the government should ensure their safety back into the country,” Mosisili said.
Since the murder of Lieutenant General Maaparankoe Mahao in June 2015 and the subsequent commission of inquiry chaired by a Botswana judge, Justice Mphaphi Phumaphi, Lesotho has been under immense international pressure to implement reforms.

Justice Phumaphi recommended the reforms in the judiciary, security sector, parliament and the public service.
SADC has been piling pressure on Thabane’s government to get on with the reforms.
Thabane told party leaders that he expects that by next year there will be a national agreement on the content and processes of comprehensive political reforms and national conciliation.
He said it is also expected that by next year tensions and divisions within and among security services will be reduced thereby enhancing the participation of the security sector in the national dialogue and reforms processes.

Terms of reference for the proposed NDPC, which Thabane was actively asking parties to support once it is constituted, include the preparation and coordination of the national dialogue plenary and arrangements for district consultations. The NDPC will design and plan dialogue topics and themes, speakers and facilitators, and parallel thematic sessions.
It will also develop the criteria for representation at the dialogue, draw up a list of participants and sensitise the communities to ensure effective participation.

Stressing the need for a neutral body like SADC throughout all processes, Thabane said the committee will have five representatives from the government, three from SADC, two from the Lesotho Council of Non-Governmental Organisations (LCN), one from the CCL, one from the media, one from academia, six from political parties, and two from other stakeholders.
He said the criteria for the NDPC membership selection will be based on technical skills including designing, planning and execution of events, budgeting and finance, drafting, writing, reporting and documentation, community organisation and mobilisation and media and communication.
He said the UNDP will be an ex-officio member of the committee.

Thabane said one of the initial steps of the national dialogue is the convening of the National Leaders Forum.
He said the purpose of the NLF is to involve political leaders to forge consensus on the reforms and national reconciliation.
“As agreed by the leaders, this forum could meet at intervals as needed during the implementation of the reforms,” he said.
He said its other purpose is “to contribute to trust and confidence-building among the country’s top political leaders by providing a forum where the leaders can check-in with each other from time to time as necessary in order to promote the reforms”.

The forum will be convened by the Prime Minister in collaboration with the SADC Oversight Committee or the SADC Facilitator in Lesotho.
“The target is the top political leadership in government and opposition and any other leaders whose participation would be deemed helpful,” he said.
He said the provision of ‘other leaders’ allows for flexibility in as far as inclusion of other leaders helps to build trust, confidence and consensus among the primary participants.
“It however does not alter the focus on political leaders as the core participants.”

Staff Reporter

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