by M. K. Mahlakeng
As the eagerly anticipated 28 February snap general elections approach, one question shared by many in the opposition is whether the Maseru Security Accord (MSA) will hold up to its promise of a peaceful election or whether it will crack under the pressure. With the security situation under normalcy and a high-level security detail from South Africa guarding the Prime Minister as per his request, the PM has however requested that Commissioner of Police (ComPol) Khothatso Tšooana returns to the country.
This request was made to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) facilitator to Lesotho and Deputy President of South Africa Mr. Cyril Ramaphosa. The reasons for recalling the ComPol include, among others, “to strengthen police operations ahead of the snap general elections”, despite the security situation having been restored. ComPol Tšooana was sent on special leave to Algeria amidst allegations that he was involved in the 30 August 2014 fallout between the Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) and the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF), and the distribution of arms and ammunition to the All Basotho Connvention- (ABC) allied movement “Under the Tree army” (UTTA) to destabilise an intended peaceful march by members of the opposition on 1 September 2014 proposing for the re-opening of parliament.
Such a request challenges the provisions provided for by the MSA that, “the warring security forces will take a leave of absence for specified periods to specified SADC and Commonwealth countries; and, during this period of leave of absence, they will not exercise any authority or undue influence over the Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) or the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) and defer power to their deputies”.
However, in response to Dr. Thabane’s request, Mr. Ramaphosa warned that this move threatens all agreed deals thus placing the electoral process in serious danger. In an attempt to force the PM to abide by the MSA, Mr. Ramaphosa further stated that, “Should ComPol Tšooana be recalled from his special leave, he [Ramaphosa] would have no choice but to recall Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli who is also on a special leave in South Africa, and will withdraw Thabane’s security detail seconded to protect him”.
It is believed that the PM had already recalled the ComPol and that he was detained at the OR Tambo International Airport on the morning of 11 January by South African security agencies and was barred from boarding a flight to Maseru. Thabane’s attempt to challenge these provisions threatens any peace mechanism intended to produce peaceful elections come 28 February.
In light of the prospects that the right-wingers (the ABC and Basotho National Party, BNP), also members of the coalition government, are about to lose in these elections, the idea of disturbing and threatening the possibility of peaceful elections is commonplace. This is among other pre-election attempts and many more to be witnessed by the PM to disturb the unfolding of these elections.