Lesotho PM to reconvene parliament

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iol pic afr lesotho pm thabane AFP This photo taken in 2007, in Maseru, shows Tom Thabane, Lesotho's Prime Minister. Picture: ALEXANDER JOE

Maseru - Lesotho's prime minister on Thursday announced plans to reconvene parliament, which he had suspended in June, as he scrambled to ease the crisis engulfing his country following the weekend's botched coup.

In his first radio address since returning home from four days of exile in South Africa, premier Tom Thabane said he would recall parliament on September 19, subject to the king's approval.

“The coalition parties will meet with His Majesty King Letsie III on Friday following which I shall ensure that parliament is re-opened by 19th September,” said Thabane.

Thabane had enraged his political opponents by suspending parliament in order to avoid a vote of no confidence.

There is now widespread speculation that he is likely to dissolve parliament again on the same day he reconvenes it, in a new bid to dodge a “no confidence” vote against him.

Earlier Thursday, the deputy prime minister, Mothejoa Metsing, refused to be drawn on the possibility of a confidence motion being raised against Thabane when parliament reconvenes.

“I cannot guarantee that the motion will not pass as I am not responsible for what MP's want,” he said.

Metsing, of the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) party that shares power in the fractious coalition with Thabane's All Basotho Convention, has been accused of being the brains behind the weekend attempted coup.

As part of a deal brokered by mediators from the southern African regional bloc SADC, parties in the fragile coalition agreed on re-starting parliament.

During their two years of power-sharing, Thabane's coalition partners had progressively accused him of being aloof and making unilateral decisions.

In the radio interview on Thursday, the premier tried to assure the nation that the governing coalition still stood and expressed the hope its members could resolve their differences.

Thabane had planned to make a televised address to the nation, but one of his aides said he had been prevented from doing so by the Communications Minister Kompi Mochoboroane, also a member of LCD party.

“The minister ... has instructed that he (prime minister) not be allowed to air the statement,” a state house aide who asked not be named.

The army denied staging a coup last week. It said it had acted to disarm the police, alleging they had planned to pass an assortment of weapons to unspecified political radicals.

Sapa-AFP



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