Defence PS appeals to SADC to urgently remove fired LDF commander by any means from Lesotho for peace to prevail.
THE Ministry of Defence Principal Secretary (PS), Thato Mohasoa, has written a damning letter to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Facilitator and South African Vice-President, Cyril Ramaphosa, outlining several violations of the Maseru Security Accord (MSA) by fired army commander Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli.
Under the Accord signed on 23 October 2014 through Mr Ramaphosa’s facilitation, Lt Gen Kamoli and Lt Gen Maaparankoe Mahao of the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF), as well as Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) Commissioner, Khothatso Tšooana, are supposed to go to an African or Commonwealth country on special leave for specified periods, to allow the restoration of cordial relations between the two feuding security agencies.
During the leave of absence, which comes into effect on 15 November 2014, the three are not supposed to “exercise any authority or undue influence over the LDF or LMPS”, which would be under the leadership of their deputies.
However, according to Mr Mohasoa’s communiqué, Lt Gen Kamoli had since breached the Accord and is now appealing to SADC “through the Facilitator, to remove General Kamoli, as a matter of urgency, by any means, from the LDF and the country for peace to prevail,” in the Kingdom.
The letter, which the PS is expected to discuss with Mr Ramaphosa today, narrates Lt Gen Kamoli’s alleged transgressions and reads, in part: “Following the signature of the Maseru Security Accord, a number of violation incidences by Lt Gen Kamoli have been recorded.
“A day after the signing of the Accord, General Kamoli called two meetings, one after the other, for officers and other ranks. In the two meetings, he reported that he was still the substantive commander of the LDF. He also told the soldiers that he would proceed on leave of absence after the expiry of 21 days, leaving his second in command in an acting capacity and detailed how resources of the office of the commander would be utilised in his absence.
“The two meetings were followed by visiting soldiers on tour of duty in the other districts where he told soldiers virtually the same message.
“The organisation of the meetings and utterances violated the letter and spirit of the MSA in that the accord does not reinstate Gen Kamoli in the office of commander of the LDF; on the contrary, it recognises his removal from office by obliging the signatories to abide by the laws of Lesotho. His remarks outlining the use of resources violates the MSA provision on non-interference with the LDF during the leave of absence. The utterances also go far beyond what can be termed as handing over to the second in command of the Force. His continued engagement within the LDF is a clear disregard of the article relating to subservience to the civil authority of the country.”
Mr Mohasoa further chronicles how a number of soldiers were “detained and questioned for several hours and consecutive days following the publication, on social media, of a photograph of Cabinet Ministers’ vehicles fuelling at a military fuel bowser”.
“Mobile phones of the soldiers were confiscated for long hours. The brunt of the detentions was borne by Corp…. (name withheld) and Private…(name also withheld), who both work at the Transport Unit.
“The detention of the soldiers and confiscation of their phones amounted to recriminations for matters arising from military-political situations that the MSA sought to resolve. These incidents, therefore, contravene the spirit of the Accord to the extent that it encourages the promotion of peace.”
Mr Mohasoa further notes how “on 31 October 2014, during the visit of Gen Kamoli at Mokhotlong Military Base, soldiers were assaulted and the base commander threatened with death”.
“The soldiers were alleged to be loyal to Gen Mahao, hence the assault. The incident has since been reported to Mokhotlong Police Station where Criminal Record of Investigation /749/11/14 has been opened,” he said.
“The violence meted out on the soldiers by Gen Kamoli’s team overtly provokes violent response from soldiers who do not support the self-imposed command of Gen Kamoli.”
The PS also notes a letter written by government on 30 October 2014 appointing “the second in command of the LDF as acting commander, only to be rejected by Gen Kamoli”.
“The following day, the officer accompanied by two subordinates made verbal representations to the Government Secretary seeking to justify the rejection of the appointment.
“This was a manifest case of insubordination to government by elements who are apparently disloyal to the government, contrary to the dictates of the MSA.
“In fact, General Kamoli has since proceeded to the SADC Mission Office in Maseru to submit a copy of the plan which he has prepared, which in his opinion, details how relations between the police and soldiers can be restored. This again is a breach of the dictates of the Accord. In the same meeting with the SADC officials, he submitted a copy of the circular which he had prepared by which he is delegating his powers as commander to the second in command. By all accounts, Mr Kamoli has not observed any of the stipulations of the Accord since signing it.”
Because of these alleged misdemeanours, Mr Mohasoa is urging Mr Ramaphosa to help Lesotho get rid of Lt Gen Kamoli.
The letter continues: “He continues to make submissions on behalf of the LDF to the PS as if he is the bonafide commander of the force and has even gone to the extent of calling the PS to demand the restoration of his official cellphone contract, including other rights.
“In the end, it is a matter of urgency that SADC, through the Facilitator, remove Gen Kamoli, by any means, from the LDF and the country in order for the peace process to commence.
“It remains the view of the government of Lesotho that if Mr Kamoli could leave the army, all efforts to restore both the political and security situation to normalcy will be successful”.
Contacted for comment on the letter, Mr Mohasoa last night told the Lesotho Times: “It’s true I wrote the letter you are talking about, to Mr Ramaphosa and I expect to discuss it further with him on Thursday, which is tomorrow.
“There is nowhere in the Accord where Kamoli is recognised as the LDF commander and that same accord did not revoke the fact that he was fired on 29 August by the prime minister.”
Meanwhile, there was no immediate comment from Lt Gen Kamoli and the LDF regarding the PS’s allegations.