Army chief speaks on attacks

MASERU — The commander of the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) Major General Thuso Motanyane has said the April 22 attacks on the State House and Mokoanyane Barracks have ruined the army’s reputation.
Motanyane was addressing 483 members of the LDF at a parade to review the army’s operations for 2009 and plan for next year.
“The April 22 attacks at the Mokoanyane Barracks, the Prime Minister’s house and ministers’ homes in 2007 have left a stain on the army’s good operations which we used to be proud of,” Motanyane said.
This is the first time that the LDF commander has publicly spoken about the attack by about twenty mercenaries are who are alleged to have been on a mission to assassinate Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili and topple the government.
He said the attacks also left people with questions about the capability of the army.
“They leave the Basotho nation questioning whether their forces have been trained well enough to be able to protect them. All these have given our enemy a chance to scorn us,” he said.
“However, we are proud of the LDF members who fought and conquered the attackers of the Prime Minister.”
“We are also proud of those who captured the attackers.”
Four of the twenty suspected mercenaries lured from Mozambique with promises of construction jobs in South Africa, were killed during the fire exchange that ensued when they attacked the State House.  Two were arrested before they could flee Lesotho while the remainder were nabbed by the South African police in the area around Ladybrand.
Their prosecution continues in Lesotho and South African courts. Motanyane however warned that the arrest and killing of some of the mercenaries does not mean that the army has completely destroyed the enemy.
“I urge members not to be deceived and think that they have won,” he said, adding that the real enemies who hired the mercenaries were still around. Motanyane told the parade that those who were killed or arrested were “just being used”.
Motanyane warned that the enemy was still within.
“Those who are the main force behind the mission are still around.”
“Maybe you still meet some of them on daily basis, they shake your hands and show you their teeth.”
He said the army had to work hard to win back the nation’s trust. 
“It is in this situation that army members should meet their obligations and assure the Basotho nation that even if there have been such problems, we are always ready to protect our country.”
Although the mission failed it still shook the country’s stability. The question of who really was behind the attacks is yet to be conclusively answered.
A few months after the attack police alleged that exiled former military police officer Makotoko Lerotholi was the mastermind behind the failed mission to kill Mosisili. Lerotholi died in South Africa two months ago.
He had always vehemently denied the allegations.

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