The Maseru Security Accord, a new deal aimed at promoting security in Lesotho, was signed in the country on Thursday, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa said.
“We are confident that the signing of the Maseru Security Accord adds yet another important chapter and milestone in the irreversible march towards the return of Lesotho to constitutional normalcy and the stabilisation of the security situation,” he said in a speech prepared for delivery.
“We are of the conviction that through the signing… the people of Lesotho have once more demonstrated their genuine commitment and desire to ensure their country takes its rightful place among nations of the world as a reliable and equal partner in development and maintenance of global peace and security.”
He said SADC stood ready to continue to assist Basotho as they embarked on this road to “democracy, peace, security and prosperity”.
Ramaphosa was addressing a press conference in Maseru on Thursday, attended by Prime Minister Tom Thabane, among others.
The security accord, signed by Lt-Gen Tladi Kamoli, Lt-Gen Maaparankoe Mahao and Commissioner KhotatsoTsooana, was aimed at promoting harmonious relations between the leadership, officers and members of both the Lesotho Defence Force and the Lesotho Mounted Police Service.
“To do everything in their power to actively prevent, discourage and ensure that no further confrontations or hostilities are caused and occur between members and units of the Lesotho Defence Force and the Lesotho Mounted Police Service,” he said.
“Ensure no further confrontations or hostilities between members of the security forces in Lesotho take place. Reaffirm their commitment to defend the Constitution of the Kingdom of Lesotho.”
It would also confirm that all security forces in the country were subjected to the political leadership of the kingdom and committed to accepting the leadership in the execution of their duties.
The accord would also recognise that the Facilitation Mission to Lesotho would continue to monitor the political and security situation in the country, and to monitor and assist in the maintenance of law and order and the relations between security forces, he said.
Ramaphosa said the accord would ensure that the work of SADC Politics, Defence and Security Observer mission was respected.
“As well as to cooperate with one another in the fulfilment of the pact.”
Ramaphosa said that SADC recognised that Lesotho would continue to face security challenges that were manifested through tension, lack of trust and co-operation between the Lesotho Defence Force and the Lesotho Mounted Police Service.
“This requires that we assist the country in developing long-term security sector reform to address the security challenges facing the country,” he said.
“This should be done with a view of ensuring all Basotho live in a secure, stable and democratic environment.”
He said that through discussions Kamoli, Tsooana and Mahao agreed to go on a leave of absence for specified periods within 14 days and to undergo working visits to specified SADC and Commonwealth countries.
“During the period of leave of absence, they will not exercise any authority or undue influence over the Lesotho Defence Force or Lesotho Mounted Police Service,” he said.
“During this period, the deputy commander of the Lesotho Defence will head the Lesotho Defence Force while the assistant commissioner of police will lead the Lesotho Mounted Police Service.”
Ramaphosa said the deal was inspired by a “great sense of patriotism” and putting the interests of the nation above their personal interests.
Ramaphosa went to Maseru on Wednesday to facilitate the country’s return to political normalcy, his office said.
Spokesman Ronnie Mamoepa said Ramaphosa was expected to continue to pursue consultations with political role players, which would include paying a visit to His Majesty King Letsie III.
He said the Southern African Development Community (SADC) regional facilitation efforts had yielded positive results with the reconvening of parliament by His Majesty King Letsie III which took place on October 17 in Maseru.
The declaration further provided for parliament to discuss the budget and any other related matter to the general elections scheduled for February 2015 on a date to be set by His Majesty King Letsie III as well as the dissolution of parliament in December.
Ramaphosa left after the press conference in Maseru ahead of delivering the OR Tambo memorial lecture in Alice, Eastern Cape. The lecture will take place on Friday at 10am. SAPA