Co-operation with other countries important: Sekatle

MASERU — Co-operation with other countries in times of civil strife is inevitable, Public Service Minister Semano Sekatle told parliament yesterday.

Sekatle said this in response to a question by All Basotho Convention (ABC) MP, Tatia Moseme, about the arrangements Lesotho had in place to evacuate its nationals from war-torn Libya.

Moseme wanted to know what Lesotho was doing to ensure that Basotho are evacuated safely in times of civil unrest in countries where it has diplomatic missions.

The MP said Lesotho should stop relying on help from other countries.

Lesotho in March recalled all staff at its embassy in Tripoli, Libya, following deterioration in the security situation in that country.

The government said the government of Kenya offered a plane to all African governments that wanted to evacuate their nationals from Libya, an offer Lesotho took advantage of.

Sekatle said the fact they relied on help from fellow African countries to evacuate its nationals did not mean the country was not self-reliant.

“Sadc and other African countries had jointly co-ordinated efforts to evacuate their citizens from Libya and it was in this context that South Africa and Kenya had offered Basotho space in their aircrafts,” Sekatle said.

The minister was answering questions on behalf of Foreign Affairs Minister Mohlabi Tsekoa who was in Malaysia on state business.

“It is therefore incorrect to suggest that Lesotho relies solely on other countries for the safety of its citizens in countries affected by civil strife,” Sekatle said.

“No country is an island. Co-operation among states is normal during times of crises and disaster.”

Sekatle said when Lesotho co-operates with other countries “within the framework of Sadc or the African Union this should not and cannot in any way be interpreted as relying on those countries.”

He said when there is civil strife in any country the Lesotho government liaises with the concerned country’s government to ensure the safety and security of Basotho and their properties.

Lesotho’s diplomatic missions in those countries “get in direct contact with all Basotho to determine how they can be assisted”.

“If there is need for repatriation, the government through the embassies facilitates the process in co-ordination with Southern African Development Community countries and other friendly states,” Sekatle said.

“All possible ways are explored which include repatriation by air, road or sea. Repatriation by air can be through commercial flights or special flights. Special flights can be shared by a number of countries as per arrangements.”

Libya has been embroiled in civil strife since February after rebels demanded an end to Muammar Gadaffi’s 42-year-old rule.

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