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promises crackdown on coup-plotter soldiers
2 March 2015
Minister Tom Thabane has vowed to crack down on
dissident soldiers who tried to overthrow him in an
attempted coup last year. The promise was made after
he cast his vote Saturday in the early elections,
brokered by South Africa.
Thabane's insistence that the military be held to
account heightens the tension already gripping the
country after the prime minister fled to South
Africa last year.
Two weeks ago violence flared up again when two of
Thabane's bodyguards, who tipped him off about the
raid on his residence, were shot.
Voting in Maseru Saturday, he said that he was "sick
and tired of the nonsense" in his country.
"The people must vote. They must vote to show that
they, too, are tired of what is happening.
"Those soldiers who have deliberately tried to
destabilise Lesotho will not get away with their
criminal actions. They will be brought before court
and will be punished," he said.
Thabane issued assurances that he would accept
defeat if he lost the election: "If the people speak
He fled to South Africa in September shortly before
soldiers loyal to former army chief Tlali Kamoli
stormed his residence and shut down
public-broadcasting communication in the small
Kamoli is said to be loyal to Thabane's deputy,
Mothetjoa Metsing, who leads the Lesotho Congress
In June, Thabane ordered Metsing to be investigated
for corruption, which resulted in a vote of no
confidence against him. This also resulted in the
cabinet being dissolved.
But Thabane's threats to bring soldiers to justice
upped the tension yesterday, and analysts expressed
concern about how the Lesotho Defence Force - whose
troops are confined to barracks for the duration of
the election - would respond.
There are 400 SADC police in the country protecting
VIPs, polling stations and results centres.
SANDF and other SADC military personnel are
protecting the Katse Dam, which is a vital supplier
of water for industry in Gauteng.
Voters yesterday expressed reservations about the
"We are scared. Not for today, but for afterwards.
The army is not here today, but they will be on the
streets tomorrow. Then what? When SADC goes, how
will they protect us?" asked Tumane Thabane.
Molefi Masooa said that the army was known to side
"It's scary. Metsing said he was happy with the
voting process, but what if he's not happy with the
results? That's our fear."
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