Govt scoffs at LCD demands

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Nthatuoa Koeshe and Pascalinah Kabi

THE government has accused the self-exiled opposition Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) leader, Mothetjoa Metsing, of seeking to hold the government to ransom by making unreasonable demands as a precondition for his return to participate in the reforms process.

Mr Metsing has been holed up in neighbouring South Africa after fleeing Lesotho last August citing an alleged plot to assassinate him.

The government has nevertheless refuted his claims, insisting that Mr Metsing, who faces extradition from South Africa, fled to escape prosecution for corruption.

Yesterday, the government spokesperson, Nthakeng Pheello Selinyane, told a press conference that the LCD’s 13 demands which include the formation of a government of national unity (GNU), the establishment of a truth and reconciliation commission and the release of former army commander, Tlali Kamoli, were unwarranted as they had nothing to do with his alleged safety concerns.

Lieutenant General Kamoli is currently detained at the Maseru Maximum Prison awaiting trial for a plethora of murder and attempted murder charges. Several associates of Lt-Gen Kamoli are also on remand awaiting trial on various charges.

He said that while the government was committed to addressing his safety concerns and was prepared to meet him in South Africa on 2 May, it was however, adamant that the 13 demands were only a ploy to give him a greater say in government affairs.

“It is now an open secret that the 13 demands or conditions set out by Mr Metsing for his safe return to the country have nothing to do with his safety but rather an exercise aimed at giving him powers and a say on how government should conduct itself in relation to the court cases, running of public service and appointment of senior judiciary personnel and security bosses,” Mr Selinyane said.

“We accept Mr Metsing’s fear for but his is not a political problem and his party can still agree to go for the reforms regardless of whether or not he is present in Lesotho. His party was part of reforms preparations in his absence. There have been 13 points from Metsing which suddenly appear as a platform of the opposition on reforms and the question is, how does Ntate Metsing’s fears relate to the GNU and the hiring and firing of a principal secretary?”

Mr Selinyane said while the government was serious about addressing Mr Metsing’s fears, it was important for all concerned not to elevate his fears into a political crisis as that was not the case.

Talks between the government and Mr Metsing over the latter’s possible return have so far failed to materialise and it remains to be seen whether or not they will be held on the re-arranged 2 May 2018 date.

Mr Selinyane said it was wrong for the opposition to think that the proposed negotiations were related to the extradition process.

“After Mr Metsing failed to appear before the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO), the directorate approached the relevant authorities. Its decision was in no way influenced by the government and the cabinet never assisted the DCEO on that process. The government dialogue with Mr Metsing is on his return and not about the DCEO matter.”

He said government would continue to persuade Mr Metsing to return to Lesotho and that it was ready to give him security as it understood his concerns.

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