Zuma heads to Lesotho

The president will travel to Lesotho on Tuesday for talks aimed at bringing peace to the country.

President Jacob Zuma. Picture: GCIS.

JOHANNESBURG - The Department of International Relations and Cooperation has confirmed that President Jacob Zuma will travel to Lesotho on Tuesday for talks aimed at bringing peace to the country.

Lesotho's former military commander Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli has taken control of the country's elite Special Forces Unit, allegedly in preparation for a possible standoff.

He has refused to step down as the commander of the Lesotho Defence Force, despite being fired for alleged corruption involving millions of rand s.

Kamoli has been accused of destabilising the mountain kingdom by masterminding a coup and has now reportedly seized an unknown number of weapons from state armouries.

The department's Clayson Monyela says, "President Jacob Zuma will be travelling to Lesotho on Tuesday to engage the role players with regards to the situation in that country."

Lesotho's Prime Minister Thomas Thabane returned to state house in the capital Maseru on Wednesday, four days after he fled to South Africa following the apparent bid by the military to oust him.

Lesotho's army said it had not tried to oust Thabane but rather moved against police suspected of planning to arm a political faction. One policeman was shot dead and four others wounded.

The unrest stems from a power struggle between Thabane, who is supported by the police, and Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing, who has the loyalty of the army.

Tension has risen since Thabane, who has accused Metsing of orchestrating the coup, suspended parliament in June amid feuding in the two-year-old governing coalition.

Lesotho has suffered a several coups since independence from Britain in 1966. At least 58 locals and eight South African soldiers died during a political stand-off and subsequent fighting in 1998, when Pretoria sent in troops.

Besides textile exports and a slice of regional customs receipts, Lesotho's other big earner is hydropower and water, both of which it supplies to neighbour South Africa.