Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Lesotho: SADC Committed to regional peace in polls

Despite tensions among political parties in Lesotho, South Africa, along with the South African Development Community (SADC), has reaffirmed its commitment to ensuring peaceful elections in the mountain kingdom.

Lesotho is set to hold elections, brokered by SADC, on 28 February.

South Africa's International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane on Monday updated the media on South Africa's position on a number of international developments, including the upcoming elections in Lesotho and Nigeria.

The Minister also used the opportunity talk about the outcomes of the recent African Union Summit, South Africa's relief efforts in flood struck Mozambique and Malawi as well as South Africa's role as the chair of the G77 + China.

With electioneering underway in neighbouring Lesotho, tensions remain high, especially after King Letsie III appointed Kananelo Mosito as President of the Court of Appeal.

Despite opposition from several political parties, Prime Minister Thomas Thabane went ahead with Mosito's swearing-in ceremony in late January, an event boycotted by Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing, who is Thabane's political foe.

Opponents say the appointment was a violation of the electoral agreement mediated by SADC appointed mediator and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.

The agreement obliges political parties to defer senior appointments until after the poll.

Last weekend, a security guard of Thabane was killed and two soldiers were wounded in a shooting that further worsened the security situation.

Thabane's government is on a caretaker basis following the dissolution of parliament in December last year.

Lesotho has been in political turmoil since June last year when Thabane suspended Parliament to avoid a vote of no confidence that was being pushed by his coalition government partners.

In late August last year, a coup to oust Thabane was thwarted.

Minister Nkoane Mashebane said the security concerns have been raised by all parties in Lesotho and they will be given attention.

She reiterated the view that preparations for holding a free and fair election in Lesotho remain on course and continue unabated.

SADC has already deployed its Electoral Advisory Council (EAC), which is expected to add impetus to current preparations and efforts by the Lesotho Electoral Commission (LEC) to deliver credible, free and fair elections in which the people of Lesotho

President Zuma, as Chair of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation, is also currently chairing a meeting with leaders from Lesotho in Pretoria.

According to Minister Nkoana-Mashabane, this is a regular meeting attended by Prime Minister Thabane and leaders from opposition parties.

The leaders update President Zuma on plans for election preparedness and security, among other issues.


Turning to Nigeria, which has been rocked by terrorist attacks in recent months, Minister Nkoana-Mashabane said the AU will continue to stand with Nigeria in the fight against Boko Haram or any terrorism in the continent.

On Saturday, Nigeria announced that it is postponing the general elections, which were scheduled for 14 February to 28 March, citing security reasons. (Tshwane)

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