US to offer military training to LDF
MASERU – The United States (US) is considering training the Lesotho armed forces as part of plans to implement several programmes in health, nutrition and education in the security sector, Public Eye can report. The US Embassy in Maseru says the security sector programme encompasses offering opportunities to train the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) officers. This emerged in Prime Minister Ntsokoane Matekane’s meeting with the US Ambassador to Lesotho, Maria Brewer, at the State House in Maseru on Monday this week to discuss opportunities for Lesotho for expanded co-operation in security, health, trade, education and nutrition. The meeting is in line with Matekane’s participation in the US-Africa Summit which was held in Washington DC, USA, last year from December 13 to 15, 2022. Among others, the summit discussed security, good governance, food security, economic engagement, global health security and youth leadership.
While she could not be drawn into discussing the finer details of America’s involvement in the security sector, US Embassy Political and Economic Officer, Erika Lewis, clarified in an interview with Public Eye that envisaged new opportunities in training are likely to include general capacity building training, not only for the LDF but across the breadth of the security sector in the country. Lewis noted that security factors touch on all institutions and other entities with a role to ensuring the security of the state and its people. She also highlighted that the meeting centred on the US government’s commitment to work towards extending their cooperation as “new things are coming for Lesotho, which includes working towards the betterment of the country’s school programmes, including offering new opportunities on training for the LDF as well as to strengthen our general partnership.”
The US government has also assured Prime Minister Matekane of assistance in strengthening education in remote schools where children are malnourished. These, the embassy said, will start through school feeding programmes and improving educational programmes. Briefing the media following their meeting with Matekane, Ambassador Brewer said they discussed issues that would benefit Basotho, citing health, the Millennium Challenge Compact (MCC) II, agriculture and education, among others, and further implementing programmes which include schools feeding.
She added that the MCC Compact II will be implemented to strengthen agricultural production in Lesotho. “Through this meeting what can be expected is change in all area that have been highlighted such as health and nutrition where it will contribute to the livelihoods of Basotho. Also to continue strengthening co-operation between Lesotho and the United States,” Brewer said. She highlighted the arrival of Americans in the country under the Peace Corp programme, indicating that the post Covid-19 activities ought to signify strong bonds of collaboration between the two countries which have existed for 55 years. Prime Minister Matekane’s press attaché, Thapelo Mabote, in a separate interview told Public Eye that the meeting was the culmination of Matekane’s participation in the past US-Africa Summit which he attended in December last year.
“During his participation in the summit, the prime minister had requested that every issue concerning Lesotho that needs to be resolved should be speeded up and be considered within 25 days, including matters such as the accreditation of AGOA,” he said. The United States established diplomatic relations with Lesotho in 1966, and since independence the two countries have had productive bilateral relations. The US foreign policy priorities in Lesotho focuses on achieving the development of a stable, prosperous and healthy country.