SA to rescue Lesotho peace talks

A South African government delegation is en route to solve the crisis in Lesotho.

FILE: A South African government delegation are en route to dissolve the crisis in Lesotho. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - President Jacob Zuma and International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane are en route to Lesotho this morning to rescue peace talks following an attempted coup in that country.

Lesotho's former military commander Lieutenant Tlali Kamoli has taken control of the country's elite Special Forces Unit and calls have been made for a special Southern African Development Community SADC) deployment to ensure peace.

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

International relations spokesperson Clayson Monyela says both Zuma and Nkoana-Mashabane will consult with his majesty, King Letsie the third.

"As you know South Africa is the current chair of the SADC organ of politics, defense and security. So the president will be traveling in that capacity to engage the role players in Lesotho.

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.

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.