Opposition speaks on Kamoli exit

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Billy Ntaote

THE impending retirement of Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) Commander, Lieutenant-General Tlali Kamoli has been received with mixed emotions by opposition leaders.

Lt-Gen Kamoli’s retirement, which is slated for the 1st of December, was announced by the Prime Minister’s Office, in a statement bearing a stamp of the office of the Government Secretary Lebohang Ramohlanka on Tuesday this week.

He will be succeeded by his deputy, Major-General Khoantle Motšomotšo whose appointment has been approved by His Majesty King Letsie III on the advice of the Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili.

The retirement follows negotiations Lt Gen Kamoli held with government over his departure in the aftermath of a protracted campaign by the opposition and international community for his dismissal in line with the recommendations of the SADC Commission of Inquiry led by Justice Mpaphi Phumaphi of Botswana.

The inquiry was set up to help establish the circumstances surrounding the June 2015 killing of former army commander, Brigadier Maaparankoe Mahao who was shot dead by soldiers who had come to arrest him on allegations that he was part of a group of soldiers plotting to overthrow the army leadership.

The 10-member commission carried out its investigations between 31 August and 23 October 2015 and recommended, among other things, that “Lt Gen Kamoli be relieved of his duties as commander of the LDF in the interest of restoring trust and acceptance of the LDF to the Basotho nation and officers implicated in cases of murder, attempted murder and treason be suspended while investigations in their cases proceed in line with international best practice”.

Exiled All Basotho Convention (ABC) leader and former Prime Minister Thomas Thabane said he had questions as to what could have caused the decision.

“These are the same people who re-appointed Lt-Gen Kamoli when I had fired him and replaced him with Lt-Gen Mahao,” Dr Thabane said in an interview with the Lesotho Times this week.

“I would like to know what has changed their thinking when they actually reinstated him into office.

“I am observing from afar and I am yet to see exactly what is happening. If he leaves, then that will be a good development. However I have not been officially notified by the government about his retirement,” Dr Thabane said.

He said his return to Lesotho was subject to guarantees of adequate security for him and his family as he had fled the country fearing assassination.

“If adequate security was to be availed to me and guaranteed, then I would return to play my role as an opposition leader,” he said.

Fellow opposition leader of the Reformed Congress of Lesotho (RCL) Keketso Rantšo hailed Lt-Gen Kamoli’s exit as the first step towards implementing the security sector reforms as well as holding him accountable.

She said a lot remained to be done before opposition leaders who fled the country between May and June 2015 could return to the country.

 

She said the opposition’s fears would be allayed if this was not a guise to reassign the army commander to another lucrative government position.

“He should not be given a government post to thank him.

I do not understand why they took so long negotiating with him when they had the powers to just fire him as they have always done with other officers. We suspect that he shall be given another job in government given how much he has been praised by the government.

“His command resulted in a stalemate and caused us to flee the country, so for us to be confident we need to see other SADC recommendations being implemented,” Ms Rantšo said.

She also appealed to Lt Gen Kamoli to refrain from taking a government job and “stay at home and wait to assist those investigating the killings of Lt Gen Mahao and Sub Inspector Mokheseng Ramahloko and others”.

She said she would return home when all the exiled soldiers had returned to their jobs and others charged with mutiny were released from detention.

Attempts to get hold of Basotho National Party leader, Thesele ‘Maseribane were unsuccessful as his mobile phone was not reachable.

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