In Summary
  • Thabane has vowed to implement the SADC's recommendations on prosecutions and on major army reforms.
  • The new government admits the army has held the levers of power in Lesotho, a country with a population of just two million.

MASERU

When rival officers gunned down Lesotho's army chief and were then killed by his bodyguards, hopes that the mountain kingdom had escaped its cycle of violence also perished.

The shoot-out this week at a military barracks in the capital Maseru underscored the struggle between the military and politicians over who is in control.

Elections in June were meant to be a fresh start after years of efforts by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) regional group to strengthen democratic governance in the tiny nation engulfed by South Africa.

IMPUNITY
But the bloody gunfight left the SADC exasperated at Lesotho's continued record of political violence.

"We have a problem of long drawn-out politicisation of the army," National University of Lesotho political science lecturer Mafa Sejanamane told AFP.

"Politicians plot, murder and steal public resources without fear of consequences as a result of their alliance with elements of the military."

The officers who died on Tuesday after killing army commander Khoantle Motsomotso were also suspected of involvement in the 2015 killing of former army chief Maaparankoe Mahao.

PROSECUTION
SADC had called for their prosecution over Mahao's murder — provoking stiff resistance from the military elite and the previous government of prime minister Pakalitha Mosisili.

Criminal charges became more likely when Mosisili lost power in the June election to Thomas Thabane, who was aligned with Mahao.

Thabane has vowed to implement the SADC's recommendations on prosecutions and on major army reforms — making enemies within the military and in Mosisili's camp.

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