Lieutenant General Maaparankoe Mahao says he is now in charge of the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) although he is yet to make an appearance at his office at Ha Ratjomose Barracks.
Lieutenant General Mahao was appointed LDF boss on Friday last week, taking over from the fired Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli, who has however, maintained he is still the army chief.
After unknown gunmen attacked his home a day after his appointment, Lieutenant General Mahao fled to Pretoria where he had been in hiding until his return yesterday amid tight security by South African soldiers and police.
In an interview with the Lesotho Times last night, Lieutenant General Mahao said he would only go to his office once all the “processes” had been completed.
“Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli has resisted his dismissal as LDF commander and has been all over the media spreading propaganda that he is still in charge,” he said.
“The change of command process did not happen on 30 August 2014 as scheduled because of the tragedy that befell my family. As we all know, my home in Koalabata was shot at, my vehicles damaged and my dog killed. Trying to kill me was an attempt to dodge handing over the LDF command to me.”
Lieutenant General Mahao further said since his return to Lesotho yesterday morning, he had been attending meetings with SADC delegates, Prime Minister Thomas Thabane and other stakeholders to set a roadmap for the change of command “so that I can be able to resume office”.
“Lieutenant General Kamoli has been refusing to leave office, so I have to wait for the roadmap to be completed.
“Army chiefs from Namibia, Zimbabwe and South Africa came here on Monday to meet Lieutenant General Kamoli to tell him to leave office.
“This man is simply being rebellious but he is wasting his time because I will soon take charge of the army. He must simply surrender because the truth is I am the new LDF commander and that is something Lieutenant General Kamoli should simply accept ,” Lieutenant General Mahao said.
Repeated efforts to get a comment from Lieutenant General Kamoli yesterday proved fruitless as he kept on saying he could not talk as he was in a meeting.