Thabane vows to regain control of army

 

Billy Ntaote

PRIME Minister Thomas Thabane has vowed to regain full control of the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) before the 28 February 2015 parliamentary elections.

Addressing thousands of All Basotho Convention (ABC) supporters attending the party’s star rally at Setsoto Stadium on Sunday, the ABC leader, who is also Defence, Police and National Security minister, said some elements within the LDF continued to defy his authority but vowed to regain full control.

Relations between Dr Thabane and the LDF soured in August last year when he fired Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli as army commander.

However, Lt Gen Kamoli refused to step down, arguing the dismissal was illegal, arguing he remained in charge of the LDF despite Dr Thabane’s appointment of Lt Gen Maaparankoe Mahao as the new commander.

Again, after Dr Thabane fled Lesotho on the night of 29 August 2014 and sought refuge in South Africa, the premier accused the army of trying to assassinate him in what he described as a putsch, further widening the rift between him and the LDF.

However, the premier told Sunday’s rally he was convinced that, with the help of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) mission in Lesotho, he would take full control of the LDF before the upcoming elections.

“Before the elections, I am going to have the army under my control and those who have hijacked and are abusing it will soon be no more. We are still working on that issue with SADC, but I am confident we would have resolved it by the time we go for elections,” said Dr Thabane.

Dr Thabane also told the rally he continues to be under foreign bodyguards because of Lesotho’s “solidarity” with fellow SADC states, and also the strained relationship he has with the LDF.

“These men surrounding me today (referring to his SADC bodyguards) are here due to the African solidarity we share as SADC states and they will continue to be with me until I have gained full control of the army,” he said.

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