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Lesotho concourt found Thabane acted irrationally in suspending parliament

Tom Thabane said the reason for his decision was the coronavirus pandemic, but the court said he didn’t follow due process and the proclamation is null and void.

FILE: A picture taken in Maseru, on 31 January 2020 shows the flag of Lesotho outside the Parliament building. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG – Lesotho’s Prime Minister Tom Thabane has deployed the army onto the streets to ‘restore law and order’, a day after the country’s Constitutional Court said he acted irrationally when he suspended parliament last month.

Thabane said the reason was the coronavirus pandemic, but the court said the Prime Minister didn’t follow due process and the proclamation is null and void.

Members of Parliament (MPs) of his party, the All Basotho Convention, and coalition partner the Basotho National Party challenged the suspension – also accusing Thabane of acting unilaterally.

Last month he lost a National Assembly constitutional amendment vote that stripped him of powers to unilaterally dissolve parliament if loses a vote of no confidence.

A few days later, he advised the king to suspend Parliament, a provision that would also nullify all pending laws including that vote before it was passed by the senate.

His reasoning however was the coronavirus, but the constitutional court said he acted on a self-created urgency.

Judge Sakoane Sakoane says the court found for the applicants that challenged the suspension.

“They have proved the claim that the Prime Minister acted irrationally in proroguing Parliament, and thereafter failing to report the matter to Parliament.”

The court says Parliament must continue.

“The prorogation of Parliament proclaimed by the Prime Minister is reviewed and set aside as null and void and of no legal force and effect. It is declared that Parliament can continue with the business and processes that were interrupted by the prorogation.”

The applicants also wanted the court to find Thabane unfit to hold office, but it says it has no jurisdiction in that regard.