MASERU — Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) commander Major General Phatoli Lekanyane retired on Thursday after serving in the army for 28 years.
He was replaced by Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli, 46.
Major General Lekanyane was appointed army commander last August making his reign one of the shortest in the LDF’s history.
Speaking at a change-of-command ceremony at Ratjomose Barracks on Thursday, Major General Lekanyane said he was proud to have served the “Basotho nation through this elite organisation”.
“My service in the defence force has been long and full of challenges, as the organisation went through the heat as well as icy water to be moulded into what it is today,” Major General Lekanyane said.
“I hand over this baton of command to my successor with pride and full trust he will lead this organisation to fulfill its purpose, as a tool of peace and stability, for all Basotho. I wish him all the best.”
Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili, who is also Minister of Defence, thanked the entire LDF command and in particular the outgoing commander Major General Lekanyane.
“I wish to thank you for a job well done. You have been in office for a very short time but you have reached the greatest heights after taking the baton from the previous commander, Lieutenant General Edward Thuso Motanyane,” Mosisili said.
He said the military had made great strides under Maj Gen Lekanyane’s command.
“You have steered the ship of reform and transformation of the Lesotho Defence Force and its professionalism continues to grow,” he said.
Mosisili said Maj Gen Lekanyane leaves the army stable and there is no doubt that the incoming commander would have a big challenge to match his outstanding leadership.
“I assure you that government will continue to give unwavering support to the army to enable it to maintain peace and stability at all cost,” he said.
The army had played a critical role in the political development of Lesotho, Mosisili said.
“Politically, we have climbed hills and mountains and traversed the valleys. Ultimately, we are on a democratic path supported and strengthened by the defence and security institutions, particularly the army,” Mosisili said.
“I mention this because your role as the military is critical in supporting democracy in this country. I therefore wish to take this opportunity to thank you all for providing that important peace and security.”
He added that the army was aware that the country is preparing for a general election on May 26 and it should ensure that peace and security prevail during that period.
“I am confident that you stand ready to ensure that peace and security prevail during the elections as this will create a level playing field which will allow Basotho to choose their own government.”
Speaking at the same occasion the new commander, Lieutenant General Kamoli, said he was happy to be given the opportunity to be a Lieutenant General and thanked Maj Gen Lekanyane for his guidance over the years.
“I feel very humbled and honoured to take this big responsibility of being a lieutenant general and thank you for your support,” said Lt Gen Kamoli.
He said he was however under no illusion that the “road ahead” would be a rosy one.
“I had always been taught that a soldier’s time is not a happy one. Besides, failure is not an option in this noble profession,” he said.
“I am confident that His Majesty’s government through the Ministry of Defence and National Security will lend me firm support.”
The Lesotho Times became the first newspaper to break the story about the change of command in the army.