Lesotho on brink again

30 June 2015 - 02:02 By Graeme Hosken and Rapelang Radebe

Lesotho's newly elected government is on the brink of collapse after the assassination of the army's former commander and the flight of ex-prime minister Tom Thabane and his coalition party members to South Africa. Lieutenant-General Maaparankoe Mahao, who was close to Thabane and narrowly escaped assassination in August, was shot dead on Thursday near Roma, east of the capital, Maseru.Thabane stepped down as prime minister in February after an early election facilitated by South African Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.The Southern African Development Community on Saturday dispatched members of its security troika to Maseru on an emergency fact-finding mission.Lesotho's unions, non-government organisations and law associations have vowed to stage a work stayaway. Opposition party leaders walked out of parliament last week.Lesotho's former police commissioner, Khothatso Tsooana, fled to South Africa on Saturday as the head of the mountain kingdom's army, Tlali Kamoli, who was allegedly behind an attempted coup last year, began a security crackdown, arresting junior officers thought to be loyal to Thabane.Kamoli was reinstated in his position after the election.Joy Peter, spokesman for South African Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, said the minister had led a regional fact-finding mission ordered by President Jacob Zuma."This follows the killing of the former army chief. The objective was for the delegation to get to the bottom of the killing. Numerous meetings were held, with the minister briefing the president today [Monday]."Thabane's adviser, Lebohang Hlaela, told The Times last night that the situation in Maseru was tense."Members of the SADC's security troika arrived in Maseru on Saturday. Security is the main concern. It was the concern of citizens before the election and it is the concern now, especially after Mahao's murder," Hlaela said.He confirmed that Thabane was in South Africa "and will remain there as long as the security situation prevails."Soldiers are being abducted and military commanders murdered and there are fears about who will be next."..

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