….as they accuse government of selectivity in application of law

OPPOSITION CALLS FOR ‘COUP’ PROBE

KANANELO BOLOETSE

MASERU – Opposition parties want a fresh probe into the alleged 2015 coup plot which has sucked in Communications Minister Thesele ‘Maseribane, saying new evidence emanating from international sources vindicates their government’s findings and reaction at the time. Party representations also took aim at government for dropping charges against army officers accused of planning to stage the putsch while charging former army commander Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli and a cabal of soldiers loyal to him.

Public Eye can report the parties – which were all part of the last Pakalitha Mosisili administration – believe failure to conduct a public enquiry into the coup reports would underscore the perception the law was being applied selectively. Sources alleged government had pretended to be implementing Sadc decisions when releasing the former mutiny accused soldiers when it was “mastering the art of selective justice”.

The opposition was reacting to fresh allegations from abroad that ‘Maseribane was allegedly complicit in a conspiracy to topple government “with the support of mercenaries if necessary” in 2015 when he was in opposition. ‘Maseribane has emphatically denied these accusations and presented himself to police on his return from exile last year, to clear his name.

The main opposition Democratic Congress (DC) and the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) parties this week said South African businessman Chris Kimber’s submission to that country’s elite crime investigations unit, the Hawks, last November corroborated their 2015 expose of a plan to topple the LDF command and government.

In an extraordinary statement to the Hawks, Kimber, a former business partner of Arron Banks – the British tycoon who is a friend to ‘Maseribane – made several damning claims of a nature against Banks. The details of the statement were revealed last month. DC chairperson Motlalentoa Letsosa told Public Eye on Tuesday that ‘Maseribane’s credibility, and that of government, crucial to any future talks between government and opposition parties, were severely damaged when the allegations resurfaced that ‘Maseribane was “actually complicit in the botched alleged plan to torpedo government”.

The deputy spokesperson for the LCD Apesi Ratšele told this paper on Wednesday that the ‘Maseribane-Banks coup plot allegations were a confirmation of the alleged mutiny plot that was purportedly unveiled by the army in 2015. Ratšele said the opposition parties were at the moment expecting relevant authorities to launch an investigation into allegations and “once the investigation has been completed”, he added, “the suspects must be taken to court”.

“We believe that Mr ‘Maseribane has a case to answer. We still believe that a competent court must have been allowed to evaluate the merits of that mutiny trial that was withdrawn last year,” he said. Letsosa told this paper on Tuesday that “the mutiny plot issue was not properly and logically concluded”.

“It was just swept under the carpet. The merits and demerits of the allegations levelled against the suspects were not dealt with,” he said. He also indicated that the coup allegations also confirmed the former government’s stance that Kamoli - who commanded the army when former army commander Lieutenant General Maaparankoe Mahao was killed – was “just a victim of circumstances” and should be released from prison.

Kamoli is languishing in jail awaiting trial after he was charged with a litany of murder and attempted murder charges last year. Opposition parties have submitted a slew of conditions under which it said it would be willing to participate in the anticipated national reforms process. Kamoli’s release is one of the conditions.

They also demanded that government stop the extradition of exiled former deputy prime minister and LCD leader Mothetjoa Metsing. But government has maintained that justice must be allowed to take its course in both Kamoli and Metsing’s cases. Letsosa said: “These allegations (against ‘Maseribane) are strengthening our case that Lt. Gen Kamoli’s case must be completed in good time or he must be released. Why is he in prison when the masterminds of coup are walking free?”

Letsosa’s sentiments were supported by Ratšele who said as opposition parties, they were opposed to selective justice. “Government stresses the importance of due process of law on Lt. Gen. Kamoli and Mr Metsing yet it withdrew the cases against soldiers that were accused of mutiny! Selective justice is injustice. This is a classic example of selective justice,” he said.

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