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Opposition end reforms boycott

by Lesotho Times
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’Marafaele Mohloboli

OPPOSITION parties have finally agreed to participate in the national reforms process after the government agreed to withdraw its application for the extradition of exiled Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) leader, Mothetjoa Metsing.

Democratic Congress (DC) leader and former Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili confirmed the opposition’s decision to participate in the reforms process at an emergency press conference that was held yesterday in Maseru.

The opposition’s stance comes in time for them to attend the National Leaders Forum which gets underway today in Maseru.

Mr Mosisili said they had a change of heart after the government agreed to their demands for the withdrawal of its application for the extradition of Mr Metsing from South Africa. The government had applied for Mr Metsing’s extradition to enable him to stand trial for corruption which he allegedly committed during his tenure as deputy prime minister in the previous government.

“Mr Metsing’s return has always been the main priority in our list of demands and it was announced to us by (the head of the SADC facilitation team to Lesotho) Justice Dikgang Moseneke that the extradition would be withdrawn and that he (Mr Metsing) would be afforded the security he needs,” Mr Mosisili said yesterday.

“We were never rebellious but said that we wouldn’t be participating until Metsing’s issue was attended to.”

The opposition’s decision follows yesterday’s meeting with Justice Moseneke in Maseru.

Prior to meeting the opposition, Justice Moseneke had also met Prime Minister Thomas Thabane and other government leaders who agreed to withdraw the extradition request.

The government communicated its decision in a letter which was also copied to South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and Justice Moseneke.

“Further to our letter of the 8th August 2018 relating to the return to Lesotho of the leader of the Lesotho Congress for Democracy’s leader Mr Mothetjoa Metsing, we wish to kindly inform you that the government undertakes to withdraw the application for his (Mr Metsing’s) extradition filed with the courts of law in South Africa.

“The government will also provide security to Honorable Metsing upon his arrival in Lesotho. The government will assess the threat to his security from time to time and in the event that there is no threat to his security and in consultation with the SADC facilitator, the government shall withdraw his security,” the government stated in its letter to the opposition yesterday.

The government further stated that “these concessions are made in the spirit of brotherhood with a view to ensuring that Metsing participates in the reforms process and be reunited with his family”.

It was on the basis of the government letter that Mr Mosisili said the opposition would participate in the National Leaders Forum “to show our seriousness and commitment towards the reforms”.

Fellow opposition leader Advocate Lekhetho Rakuoane of the Popular Front for Democracy (PFD) said they would participate in the reforms process because some of their demands had been met by the government.

“This is not to say that we are fully satisfied but at least the door has been opened to us unlike when we were left out in the cold. We shall now be able to raise some of our issues from within the process,” Adv Rakuoane said.

The opposition said that it had been also assured that none of their leaders would be arrested during the reforms processes.

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