WE wish to strongly condemn last week’s barbaric assassination attempt on Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili.
It was a despicable and senseless attempt to destabilise the country which has enjoyed relative peace over the past few years.
The assassination bid had all the hallmarks of a coup attempt.
In fact, Mothetjoa Metsing, the communications minister, has described the attack at Mosisili’s house as a failed putsch.
Three gunmen were shot dead during the barbaric attack.
It is a miracle that there were no casualties from the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF).
Eight mercenaries were arrested following the attack.
They were said to have been speaking isiZulu and Shangaani raising suspicions that they were from South Africa and Mozambique.
From the way they executed their mission there is no doubt that the hired gunmen were bent on seizing power and destabilising the country.
If the gunmen had succeeded in their evil mission the consequences would have been too ghastly to contemplate.
It is against this background that we wish to extend our congratulations to the country’s security services for thwarting the mercenaries’ senseless machinations.
We applaud their vigilance in foiling the coup attempt.
While we congratulate the security services for a job well done it is important to raise a number of questions over last week’s events.
Was the attack at the prime minister’s home an intelligence failure?
How did these mercenaries manage to sneak into the country with so much ease to the extent that they were not detected until they had almost done irreparable damage?
If our intelligence services had at least sniffed something about the attack they would have moved earlier to thwart the mercenaries.
Nothing of that sort happened.
There is need for self-introspection from the security agencies to improve intelligence gathering to ensure national security.
We are also baffled as to how the mercenaries managed with so much ease to storm into Makoanyane barracks.
The police last week said they suspected that exiled former LDF officer, Makotoko Lerotholi, was behind the assassination attempt.
The critical question is: Was he working alone? If not who else was he working with?
Security forces must smoke out these collaborators to ensure Lesotho’s political stability.
We also hope that South Africa and Mozambique, whose nationals were implicated in the coup attempt, will co-operate fully in tracking down suspects.
We are certain that the last thing South Africa would want is a chaotic and unstable neighbour state.
Such a scenario would have huge implications for South Africa more so as we approach 2010.
Africa has struggled with undemocratic seizures of power since the 1960s. In fact, violent coups have been the bane of Africa since the 60s.
One conservative estimate has put the number of successful coups staged in Africa since 1960 at 80.
At least 180 unsuccessful coups were staged during the same period.
For instance, Mauritania has seen at least 16 coup attempts since independence in the 60s. In Nigeria, military coups were a constant feature of that country’s national politics from the 60s to the 90s.
But this is the 21st century.
We need to draw a line in the sand to say assassinations and coups have no room in modern Africa.
This message must be hammered into the minds of mercenaries and their handlers that Africa will not tolerate the violent seizure of political power.
We agree fully with South Africa’s President Kgalema Motlanthe who said acts that seek the “unconstitutional transfer of power” should have no place in our region.
Political analysts and historians agree that Lesotho has gone through turbulent times over the past 40 years.
We would not want the country to be dragged back into those dark days.
Those who seek to obtain political power should prepare to do so through the electoral route in three years time.