Thabane ouster plot set to dominate Parliament

Thabane ouster plot set to dominate Parliament

MASERU – TWO motions that could upend Prime Minister Thomas Thabane reign are expected to dominate proceedings when Parliament reopens next Friday.
The first motion, brought by All Basotho Convention (ABC) MP, Tsoinyane Rapapa, seeks to change Parliament’s Standing Order number 111 to allow MPs to vote through a secret ballot in a confidence motion on the prime minister.

In its current wording the rule is unclear whether MPs vote by voice or secret ballot.
The objective is to make an MP’s vote a secret so that they don’t fear retribution from the government, the party or the Prime Minister.
The second motion seeks to amend the constitution so that a Prime Minister does not have the option to advise the King to call an election after losing a confidence vote.
Section 83 (4) (b) of the constitution is the main target of the motion.

It says “if the National Assembly passes a resolution of no confidence in the Government of Lesotho and the Prime Minister does not within three days thereafter either resign or advise dissolution the King may, acting in accordance with the advice of the Council of State, dissolve Parliament”.

The section gives the Prime Minister three options, two of which lead to an election.
The first is that he can resign. The second is that he can advise the King to call an election. The third is that he can remain silent and force the King’s hand to call an election.
The MPs want that changed so that resignation is the only option available to the Prime Minister after losing the confidence vote.

The MPs are hoping the amendment will protect their jobs as they will no longer have to face an election if they push out a Prime Minister.
A Prime Minister who loses a confidence vote falls alone while the MPs continue in office and elect his replacement.

The motions are alleged to be part of a sinister scheme by some disgruntled ABC MPs to push out Thabane, whom they accuse of being “captured” by a cabal that is allegedly remote controlling government operations.
The idea is that once Parliament’s rules are amended to allow a secret ballot the MPs, even those who publicly backed Thabane, might vote him out without fearing a backlash.
With the voting rules changed the MPs will then work on changing the constitution so that Thabane can fall alone.

The trouble for the MPs behind the motions is that it requires a two thirds majority to amend Section 83.
The motions were submitted in March but could not me discussed because Parliament was immediately closed in what some saw as a move to forestall the impending confidence motion against Thabane.

This week Rapapa said he is going to push his motion as soon as Parliament reopens. “Nothing has changed because I am going ahead with the motion,” Rapapa said.
The motions come at a time when the ABC is in the throes of a factional power battle that is now in court.
Several attempts to mend the rift between the factions have failed. Rapapa said the Parliamentary Speaker and his deputy are the ones who know when the motion will be approved.

Nkheli Liphoto

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