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Opposition MPs walk out of parly

by Lesotho Times
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’Marafaele Mohloboli

OPPOSITION legislators walked out of parliament on Wednesday in protest over the expulsion of two Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) proportional representation legislators, ’Malerato Thamae and ’Mathethiwe Senekale who were accused of interfering with parliamentary proceedings.

The duo were ruled to have interfered with proceedings after they made remarks in the wake of a ruling by National Assembly Speaker, Sephiri Motanyane, that a proposed motion by Democratic Congress (DC) legislator for Qhalasi #57 constituency, Palo Leteetee, on the deployment of Southern African Development Community (SADC)  troops to Lesotho was not urgent.

In his letter Mr Leteetee stated that: “The issue of the SADC troops deployment is of public interest and therefore it would be important to be debated by Members of Parliament.”

However, Mr Motanyane ruled that the matter was not urgent and that it rather be tabled as an urgent question.

It was then that the duo accused the speaker of being biased and dictatorial without seeking permission to speak from the chair.

Mr Motanyane responded by directing the Sergeant at Arms to remove the MPs from the House in terms of Standing Order #50 which provides for the expulsion of members from the House.

The Sergeant at Arms eventually talked the legislators into complying with the speaker’s directive to leave the House without calling their names.

The expulsion prompted the rest of the opposition MPs to walk out as well, leaving behind Popular Front for Democracy leader, Lekhetho Rakuoane and Senqu MP, Likeleli Tampane, who sought to stand on point of orders before joining their colleagues.

Thereafter, a visibly irate Ms Tampane said the directive prejudiced female parliamentarians.

“Women have just been expelled from this house and being a woman, I am not happy about the decision as this goes to show that women are continuously being harassed,” Ms Tampane said.

“This says that a fight against us has been waged and we still demand answers over the killing of Mme Lipolelo,” she said in reference to the former wife of Prime Minister, Thomas Thabane, who was shot dead in June this year by unknown assailants while traveling in her vehicle with a female companion who sustained serious injuries.

Ms Tampane further said the National Assembly erred in describing the expelled members by their physical attributes and not their names.

For his part, LCD spokesperson, Teboho Sekata said the rest of the opposition legislators walked out in solidarity with their colleagues because “an injury to one is an injury to all”.

“However, we are happy with his decision because the international community is watching and they can tell that the Speaker is biased and not protecting the opposition.”

Mr Sekata said they would all return to parliament today as the duo were expelled for the rest of yesterday only.

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