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Religious leaders call for ‘peaceful’ dialogue

by Lesotho Times
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Letuka Chafotsa

The Lesotho Catholic Bishops Conference (LCBC) has called for peaceful dialogue between the country’s feuding parties, and also urged the international community to ensure stability returns to the troubled kingdom.

Addressing a media conference in Maseru yesterday, Bishop Augustinus Tumaole Bane urged the three political parties in government and security agencies to resolve their differences without resorting to violence, emphasising the need to exercise “restraint” in their actions.

The ruling All Basotho Convention (ABC), Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) and Basotho National Party (BNP) are fighting to keep their two-year-old coalition government intact, while the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) and Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) are also locked in a fierce struggle which has resulted in the death of one police officer.

Bishop Bane, who was flanked by Bishop Joseph Mopeli Sephamola, Archbishop Tlali Gerard Lerotholi, Archbishop Emeritus Bernard Mohlalisi, Bishop Emeritus Sebastian Khoarai, and Bishop John Tlhomola at the press briefing, said it was possible for the feuding parties to live in harmony once again.

“The Lesotho Catholic Bishops Conference has learnt, with the greatest dismay and shock, that there were military operations in the early hours of 30 August, which seized several key police stations in Maseru. One police officer was brutally killed and several others injured in the operations.

“We are also aware of the latest political developments and political impasse in Lesotho; the escape on Saturday of Prime Minister Thomas Thabane and his partner in the coalition government, Thesele ‘Maseribane,  as well as other citizens due to the military operations; the state of anarchy and  lawlessness resulting from the shutting down of  police services, and the shutting down of the judiciary and other public services,” Bishop Bane said.

“The LCBC has also followed very closely, exchanges in the public domain between and among parties involved in the impasse. These exchanges do not inspire hope among Basotho, so we call on the national leadership to exercise restraint as the country goes through this difficult time.

“We call upon all the parties to respect their commitment to work together to restore security and political stability in the Kingdom,” said Bishop Bane.

Bishop Bane it was not too late for the feuding parties to find each other once again.

“Lasting peace is still possible, only if justice is done to the legitimate concerns and expectations of all the parties involved.

“This is why dialogue is so important in the process of peace-making,” Bishop Bane said, adding the international community and civil society also had a duty to ensure there is peace and stability in Lesotho.

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