Ramatšella shelves US embassy march

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. . . as PM set to address demonstrators

Pascalinah Kabi

OUTSPOKEN politician, Bokang Ramatšella, has shelved plans to lead a protest march to demand the removal of United States envoy to Lesotho Matthew Harrington, with Sunday’s march in Maseru only meant to show “full solidarity” with the government

Mr Ramatšella also told the Lesotho Times last night Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili and other governing party leaders would address the protestors at the end of the march.

He said the purpose of the march was to show unwavering support for both Dr Mosisili, the coalition government and the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) command.

“The much anticipated protest march will take place on Sunday starting from Lesotho Cooperative College to Machabeng International School. The police have given us a permit to hold the protest,” said Mr Ramatšella who is a spokesperson of one of the factions of the Lesotho People’s Congress (LPC) – a member of the seven-party coalition government.

Dr Mosisili’s Democratic Congress formed a coalition government with the Lesotho Congress for Democracy, Marematlou Freedom Party, Basotho Congress Party, National Independent Party, LPC and Popular Front for Democracy after the 28 February 2015 general elections resulted in a hung parliament.

Mr Ramatšella said the protest march was meant to disprove claims by opposition parties and “some media houses” the coalition government would soon collapse due to lack of solid support.

“We want to show this country and the world that Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili, his government and the LDF command have solid support and this will be translated by a huge number of supporters attending the protest march,” he said.

“When we arrive at Machabeng, the leaders of the coalition government will receive us. Together with some select protest march leaders, they will go to State House to meet with and escort the PM to Machabeng where he will address government supporters. Other people will also make speeches during the event.”

Mr Ramatšella stressed the demonstration would be a “political protest” although the participants would not be wearing their party colours.

“People are inherently political beings, so whether they gather in church or for social gatherings, they will be politicking.”

He said the initial intention to march to the US embassy in Maseru to demand the removal of Mr Harrington had been shelved.

Ambassador Harrington has insisted the US, the only major Western power with a direct embassy in Lesotho and one of the Mountain Kingdom’s largest benefactors, wants to see all Southern African Development Community Commission of Inquiry recommendations implemented, including the recommendation that LDF commander Lieutenant-General Kamoli be relieved of his duties as commander of the LDF.

For this and other statements demanding the respect of the rule of law in Lesotho, Mr Ramatšella has called on the envoy to be kicked out of the country.

He accused Mr Harrington of being a “terrorist bent on destabilising Lesotho” for warning the country risked losing trade and aid preferences under the African Growth and Opportunity Act and Millennium Challenge Corporation’s if it doesn’t undertake “concrete actions” that address concerns about “impunity and the rule of law”.

“We decided against including that matter (march to US embassy) in the protest march, but that doesn’t mean we don’t want him (Ambassador Harrington) to go,” said Mr Ramatšella.

“We did not remove the issue from the Sunday agenda because we are scared. We still want him of this country but we have been advised to use a different approach to ensure he leaves our country in peace.”

Meanwhile, Dr Mosisili’s Press Attaché Motumi Ralejoe declined to comment on the matter when contacted by the Lesotho Times yesterday.

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