LIEUTENANT General Tlali Kamoli’s use of strong-arm tactics to remain in charge of the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) seem to be backfiring after it was claimed this week that all Commonwealth and Southern African Development Community (SADC) nations, except Botswana, had refused to accommodate him for his leave of absence under the Cyril Ramaphosa-brokered Maseru Security Accord (MSA).
This is reportedly because none of the nations wanted to be seen as placating or glorifying a renegade soldier who disobeys democratically-elected civilian leaders.
The sensational claims against Lt General Kamoli were made by Home Affairs Minister Joang Molapo at a breakfast meeting he convened for the media during his Basotho National Party (BNP)’s leadership conference at the weekend.
The MSA enjoined Lt General Kamoli, Police Commissioner Khothatso Tšooana, and newly-appointed LDF commander Maaparankoe Mahao to take leave of absence in a foreign country and be replaced by their deputies to heal the rifts between the army and police which have fostered the current discord in the country.
But while most countries approached were easily willing to accommodate Commissioner Tšooana and Lt Gen Mahao, Lt Gen Kamoli had no takers. According to Mr Molapo, only Botswana, ruled by former Botswana Defence Force Commander Seretse Ian Khama, came to Lt Gen Kamoli’s rescue and accepted him.
All other Commonwealth and SADC member countries approached had rejected Lt Gen Kamoli over fears it would set a bad precedent of glorifying army commanders who use force to keep their positions and defy civilian rulers, claimed Chief Molapo.
He said only Botswana decided to take him in, with President Khama, himself a military man, agreeing to accept Lt Gen Kamoli so he could teach the Mosotho a few lessons about democracy.
The MSA specifically said Lt Gen Kamoli, Lt Gen Mahao and Commissioner Tšooana should go to any SADC or Commonwealth country.
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”, to be put under the leadership of their deputies.
“People need to understand this thing in its entirety,” added Chief Molapo.
“Maaparankoe agreed to go on a leave of absence and when SADC countries were asked who would be willing to host him, numerous SADC countries representatives were raising their hands delightedly saying we will take him to assist Lesotho out of its current security crisis.”
He said when it came to Commissioner Tšooana, about 40 countries showed an interest in accommodating him during his leave of absence from the LMPS.
But when it came to Lt Gen Kamoli, only one country agreed to take him.
“Only one country that is ruled by a former soldier agreed to take him,” he said.
“President Khama said bring him here so I could teach him a lesson. He told us he has been converted to democracy so he would easily teach Lt Gen Kamoli how soldiers who refuse to listen to orders are treated.”
He said the concern of most countries was that instead of being charged with treason, Lt Gen Kamoli seems to have set a bad precedent that one can manoeuvre their way out of being held accountable by using brute force and causing political chaos.
“They (the countries) said this person has set a wrong precedent. So they said his presence in their countries would teach their own generals who may want to overthrow governments that they can take such chances as Kamoli did,” Chief Molapo said.
Lt Gen Kamoli plunged Lesotho into crisis after he ordered troops to storm police stations and seize weapons in what many described as an attempted coup. His actions forced Prime Minister Thabane to flee only to return under heavy South African police guard. South African Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa has since brokered an accord which will see the country go for elections in February 2015.
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