Lesotho’s Thabane goes home today

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IOL pic sep1 lesotho army apc maseru Reuters A member of the Lesotho military looks on as he stands guard in front of an armed personnel carrier at the entrance of the army barracks in the capital, Maseru, on August 30, 2014. Picture: Siphiwe Sibeko

Maseru - Lesotho’s deposed Prime Minister Tom Thabane was due to return to his country and his office from South Africa on Wednesday under regional protection, security sources said.

Southern African Development Community (SADC) governments had agreed on a “low-key security mission” to help him return in the face of a hostile military, Lesotho official sources said.

He was due to return on Tuesday, but was apparently waiting in the border town of Ladybrand for greater assurances of his safety.

South African security officials were assessing the security situation in Maseru on Wednesday to see if it was safe for him to return.

Under a confidential agreement he and his coalition partners reached with President Jacob Zuma, Thabane must return to Lesotho by Wednesday, the sources said.

The three leaders must address their respective parties on Wednesday then meet King Letsie III on Thursday. They must then address a joint press conference to urge their supporters to remain.

IOL pic sep1 LESOTHO-COUP-_0831_11 A worker hangs posters displaying newspaper headlines in Lesotho's capital, Maseru, on August 31, 2014. Prime Minister Thomas Thabane has accused the military of staging a coup in the mountain kingdom. Picture: Siphiwe Sibeko Reuters

Critically, Thabane must recall parliament, which he suspended in June, by September 19.

Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing agreed to rescind the coalition pact he struck with opposition leader Pakalitha Mosisili and Thabane agreed to recall parliament.

Thabane suspended parliament fearing Metsing and Mosisili’s coalition would vote him out of office. Their agreement to rescind their pact suggests they’ll not do that. But Thabane will only know for sure when parliament reconvenes.

The Lesotho government sources said SADC governments had rejected Thabane’s request for full scale military intervention.

Thabane fled Lesotho on Friday as the army took control, attacking police stations and his home.

Senior regional military officers Vusumuzi Masondo from the SANDF; Constantine Chiwenga, commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces; and Thomas Hamunyela from Namibia met Lesotho Defence Force commander Tlali Kennedy Kamoli, who led the attempted putsch

on Monday persuading him to let leaders and police officers return and to guarantee their security, sources said.

Kamoli insisted he’d remain in charge of the army.

- Independent Foreign Service

The Star

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