Botswana threatens to leave Lesotho

SHARE   |   Thursday, 18 May 2017   |   By
Botswana threatens to leave Lesotho

Conflict-ridden Lesotho could be left to solve its own problems after Botswana voiced discontent over Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili’s accusation that the Southern African Development Community (SADC) impinged on the country’s self-determination in its issuance of resolutions obliging Lesotho to honour. Botswana says it had considered SADC’s involvement in Lesotho as in accordance with the letter and spirit of the regional body’s principles and objectives and an exercise of solidarity, but has since Mosisili’s charge considered withdrawing its participation and contribution. Reacting to Mosisili’s hard-hitting letter to current SADC chairman King Mswati III of Swaziland, Botswana president lieutenant general Ian Khamaexpressed serious concern that the prime minister of Lesotho interpreted SADC’s involvement in the country as interference in its sovereignty. “If Lesotho feels that the collective and relentless efforts by the regional leaders in finding a lasting political and security solution is a direct violation of its sovereignty, then Botswana will consider withdrawing its representatives currently serving in the SADC Oversight Committee on Lesotho,” Khama said in his letter to King Mswati. Khama reminded the chairman that it should be borne in mind that the SADC member states’ unwavering support to Lesotho’s efforts of consolidating democracy, peace and stability has come with huge financial costs. Mosisili penned a scathing letter to Mswati on April 4, tearing into a March 18 communiqué of the Lozitha palace extra-ordinary summit of SADC heads of state and government instructing Lesotho to finally implement a barrage of previously issued resolutions. Mosisili said he was irked in the main by the statement’s contents at paragraphs 11, 12 and 13 as well “the procedure followed in the adoption of the communiqué”. Paragraph 12 called on the Lesotho government to address the country’s fundamental challenges and bring about political stability, 13 mandated SADC's facilitator South African deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa and the established oversight committee to closely monitor the political and security situation in the country during the period ahead of the June 3 elections.

The SADC resolved for Ramaphosa and the committee to conduct a multi-stakeholder national dialogue before the elections, and to engage the new government afterwards to implement the SADC decisions and recommendations of its commission of inquiry through a clear roadmap; cautioning Lesotho of possible consequences upon failure to implement and observe set timelines. It is over these points that Mosisili and his government have strong reservations, warning that “we cannot in good conscience allow our sovereignty to be sacrificed for whatever reason by a regional body of which we are founding members.” “It would be a sad day if indeed we were to allow the SADC to degenerate into a body where might reigns supreme,” Mosisili said. “This is not the SADC we founded. This is not the SADC we would proud to be a part of. This is not the SADC we would like to bequeath unto prosperity.” Mosisili reasons in his letter that having elections overseers would be tantamount to allowing two of the SADC structures to gnaw into the fabric of Lesotho’s sovereignty, and contends the mandate of the structures needs to be reviewed to confine them within the purviews of agreed parameters. Mosisili labeled the SADC recommendations unrealistic and absurd. “How and where on earth would somebody find time for this multi-stakeholder national dialogue during the elections campaign period?” he asked. “Need we remind the SADC that Lesotho, like all SADC member states, has devised sufficient guidelines including SADC principles for holding credible, free and fair elections, and that these guidelines have stood the test of time?” wrote Mosisili to King Mswati.
The prime minister continued that while his government had problems with the SADC engaging the country’s new government after elections on the implementation of its resolutions, he was disappointed no mention was made of progress his government has made in this regard. “But most shocking is the veiled threat of ‘the consequences’ for failure to observe timelines imposed on us,” he said, claiming this attitude was not only unhelpful but a departure from established procedures for managing inter-state affairs. “It is also a gross violation of the founding principles of our regional body that encompasses the sovereign equality of all member states, and human rights, democracy and the rule of law.” Mosisili reminded the SADC that they were in Lesotho strictly on his government’s request, and that to ensure cooperation by all at all times the requisite restraint and decorum should be maintained in all interactions. []

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