New body to drive Lesotho’s peace bid

RELEBOHILE TSOAMOTSE

MASERU – While pressure mounts on the National Reforms Authority (NRA) to expedite and complete the reform process, the authority is set to reproduce another body mandated to drive the country’s peace efforts. The NRA says the recent Stakeholders Consultation Forum held at the ’Manthabiseng Convention Centre in Maseru, has recommended establishment of an independent body to deal with peace issues in the country.

Like the NRA, the body is also set to be equipped with a secretariat composed of experts. The body will, among other things, work towards preventing conflicts, coordinating efforts towards peace building, facilitating dialogue among stakeholders, as well as mediating between conflicting parties.Nonetheless, the recommendations, according to the NRA, are subject to the normal authority adoption process until they are tabled before its plenary.

Apart from the establishment the said body to deal with peace issues, the NRA says stakeholders at the forum also discussed the transitional justice mechanism suitable for the country – including the identification of the structure to drive the said process.

Also, the period and scope of the crimes to be covered were discussed and the authority said it is working on the report about the result of the consultations. NRA’s Public Relations Manager, Motlatsi Nkhasi, told Public Eye in an interview that the proposals included the need for establishment of peace architecture as well as the transitional peace mechanism and its recognition as a multi-faceted and multi-dimensional process.

According to Nkhasi, “there is need to prioritise inclusivity as we endeavour to establish transitional mechanisms suitable for Lesotho.” During the consultations a fortnight ago, some of the victims made numerous demands including that the forum’s resolutions must comply with the constitution and that victims be asked to endorse decisions that affect them.

The authority says the victims’ demands are part of an ongoing discussion on the suitable transitional justice mechanism for Lesotho and maintains that they (the demands) will be subjected to the normal NRA resolutions’ adoption process. It is said that the stakeholder’s forum proposed that NRA should consider organising victims so as to appreciate who they are, the extent of their suffering and to establish their role going forward.

The forum was from July 21 until 23, under the theme ‘The path towards sustainable peace, unity and reconciliation’. During the consultations, NRA’s Chief Executive, Advocate Mafiroane Motanyane, called on those participating in the consultation to strive for peace and unity saying the current constitutional amendments will not bring the unity and peace Basotho need but healing and reconciliation will speed up the reform process.

He said the no peace architecture should be imposed by the NRA, but a consultative process must come up with the recommendation of the kind of the peace architecture the people want. Motanyane cited Section 3 (c) of the NRA Act which states that the objective of NRA is to promote stakeholder consensus on the national reforms and long-term national stability, unity and reconciliation. Section 8 (1) (i) of the Act also states that the authority will recommend and formulate plans for structures for dialogue on national reforms for purposes of national peace-building and reconciliation.

It is also said that the Plenary II report has instructed NRA under constitutional reforms to draft a new chapter in the constitution on political conflicts in order to create a structure on conflict resolution. Human Rights organisation, Transformation Resource Centre (TRC) has called on the NRA to urge the government to withdraw the controversial National Peace and Unity Bill for the success of the sought reconciliation.

The withdrawal, TRC said, it will facilitate and enable the NRA to conduct extensive and inclusive consultations with the victims who are central to the legal and moral legitimacy of the whole process.”

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