Political parties in Lesotho’s coalition government signed the “Maseru Facilitation Declaration” agreement on Thursday, which could ease the prevailing political tension that recently led to an alleged attempt to overthrow Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s government.
The stipulations of the agreement, mediated by South Africa Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and backed by the Southern African Development Community (SADC), include the reopening of the suspended parliament, as well as the dissolution of the lawmaking body in November to pave the way for elections to be held next year.
The agreement was signed by the nine political parties that have officially registered with the electoral commission. They include the three parties that established the coalition government and six other opposition groups.
“Parliament would be reconvened by the head of state King Letsie III on 17th October 2014…National general election would be held towards the end of February 2015 on a date to be set by the king,” according to the prime minister’s spokesman, Thabo Thakalekoala, who announced the deal.
“Parliament would be dissolved at the beginning of December 2014 to prepare for the holding of the general election … the business of parliament between the 17th October 2014 and its dissolution will be strictly limited to the passing of budget for the holding of the elections and all other elections related matters,” he said.
Thakalekoala said South African Deputy President Ramaphosa held a meeting with Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli before the political parties signed the agreement. Kamoli has been accused of masterminding the attempt to overthrow the coalition government -- an accusation he denies.
“That meeting was just to pave way for a series of consultations and meetings that [he] would be holding next week when he comes to Lesotho solely, to address the security concerns and challenges facing the country,” said Thakalekoala.
Thabane removed Kamoli as head of the armed forces and replaced him with Lieutenant General Maaparankoe.
Rival political parties in the coalition government accused Prime Minister Thabane of a power grab after he suspended parliament in an apparent move to avoid a vote of no confidence.
Thakalekoala agreed with the assessment that the accord could end the political fighting in Maseru.
“The signing of this agreement is a sign in the right direction, since we had no alternative. We were exhausted, all means of trying to restore law and order to restore peace and stability in this country,” he said. “The fact that this agreement was signed unanimously by all political parties shows that there is some light at the end of the tunnel, and we are hoping that this will ease the prevailing tension in the country right now.”
He said Basotho --as citizens of the kingdom are called -- appear to be pleased, hoping the political parties will keep their part of the bargain to ease the insecurity, economic foundering and tension faced by the nation.