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LCD ends DC alliance today

by Lesotho Times
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Bongiwe Zihlangu

The Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) is today expected to officially terminate an agreement the party signed on June 11 this year with the main opposition Democratic Congress (DC).
According to the party’s deputy secretary general, Tšeliso Mokhosi, the agreement, through which the two parties hoped to form a coalition government, would be nullified today.

Mr Mokhosi further said the decision to end terminate the agreement was in line with the Windhoek Declaration signed in Namibia on July 30, 2014, where Lesotho’s three coalition government leaders agreed that the LCD would pull out of its deal with the DC, while Prime Minister Thomas Thabane made a “solemn commitment to facilitate, after due consultation, the issuance of the instrument removing the prorogation of parliament”— all this by today, 14 August.

The leaders also committed to make the necessary reforms in order to enable the smooth-functioning of the coalition, enhance democratic governance and ensure political stability.
Both the LCD/DC agreement and the prorogation of parliament are deemed major sources of discord between LCD leader, Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing and Dr Thabane, who is also the leader of the All Basotho Convention (ABC).

The agreement was signed in the presence of Namibia’s President Hifikepunye Pohamba and Basotho National Party (BNP) Deputy Leader, Joang Molapo. Chief Molapo was representing his party leader, Thesele ‘Maseribane at the meeting.
“It is true that tomorrow, the LCD will formally announce that it is pulling out of its agreement with the DC, to form a coalition government,” said Mr Mokhosi, who is also the Minister of Energy, Meteorology and Water Affairs.

“There was an agreement signed in Namibia, as you well know, whose condition was that the LCD drops the DC, while the prime minister facilitates for the suspension of the ongoing prorogation by August 14.”
Asked if the ABC had given the LCD any indication that Dr Thabane would end parliament’s prorogation before its initial 27 February 2015 date, Mr Mokhosi said “we would be lying if we said we’d heard or been given any such indication”.
“We have not heard anything from the prime minister’s side but then again, by ending the marriage with the DC, we are not doing it to impress anyone,” Mr Mokhosi said.
“We are doing it because the LCD is a credible political party and lives up to the promises it makes.”

On the question of whether or not the ABC and LCD had resolved their differences and made peace, Mr Mokhosi said if this was the case, “then we would know the ABC’s plans today”.
“If we had resolved our issues, we’d announce together tomorrow, as the coalition government leaders, that we’re opening parliament tomorrow,” Mr Mokhosi said.
“The PM would be telling the nation that he’s opening parliament because we’re all okay.”

However, Mr Mokhosi was quick to add that their expectation, as the LCD, was that Dr Thabane, by virtue of his status as the most prominent person in Lesotho “will no doubt, live up to expectations”.
“The expectation is that the PM should, as a very prominent person, live up to the promises he makes, meaning that we expect him to do something significant tomorrow.”

Mr Mokhosi also emphasised that the LCD was confident that pushing for the opening of parliament, despite protests from academics who insist its suspension is constitutional, would be the right move because eventually “the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and Commonwealth agreed with us”.

Asked if the LCD was not merely pretending to part ways with the DC, simply to influence the suspension of the prorogation, only to turn against Dr Thabane via a no-confidence vote in his leadership when parliament resumes, Mr Mokhosi said this was not true “because we have made the promise to the SADC”.

On the question of allegations that the LCD planned to resort to violence if parliament’s prorogation was not lifted today, Mr Mokhosi said so far, the party had dealt with the issue peacefully adding “we will continue to protest peacefully”.

“We expect that the PM will use all legal instruments availed to him to ensure that parliament reopens, failing which we will protest, peacefully though,” Mr Mokhosi said.
The LCD, he added, planned to engage not only its members but the general public who oppose the current nine-month prorogation of parliament, to protest peacefully, including organising peaceful protest marches.
“Resorting to violence is a no-go area for the LCD, but like I’ve said already, we will engage the public in peaceful protest,” Mr Mokhosi said.

Contacted yesterday on the ABC’s plans regarding today’s deadline, the party’s secretary general, Samonyane Ntsekele told the Lesotho Times he was not in a position to comment because “we are still in discussion as we were advised that due consultations should be made”.

But, another ABC senior official, who is also a minister, told the Lesotho Times that the premier had not yet “facilitated” for the opening of parliament.
The minister said instead of just suspending the prorogation today, of utmost importance was for the coalition partners to engage in consultations, appoint a mediator as per the advice of South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma and set a roadmap for the government.

“There is need to take into consideration President Jacob Zuma’s advice that there should be facilitation of the talks amongst the coalition partners,” the official said.
“This means we need to have a facilitator so that we can have consensus on what pitfalls there are in the Coalition Agreement we have and how we can amend the existing agreement (on which the government was founded in June 2012).
“There is also need for a roadmap for talks, not that we need to open parliament now in August.”
He added: “And the precedence set has always been that our parliament when closed indefinitely, normally resumes business during the second week of September and yet we see there are people vying for parliament to be re-opened in August.”
On his part, the BNP Secretary General Lesojane Leuta, said the coalition partners were still working on commitments made in the Windhoek Declaration.
“We are still in consultation and I cannot say more than that. And by the look of things, we are not going to meet the deadline of 14 August,” Mr Leuta said
He also acknowledged that for parliament’s suspension to be lifted, His Majesty King Letsie III, should also be in the country to be part of the process, as Head of State.

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