Main opposition party leadership meets lawyers today to seek advice on way forward
The main opposition All Basotho Convention (ABC) is seeking legal advice on whether or not its 46 legislators should attend parliament when it reconvenes tomorrow.
According to ABC secretary general Samonyane Ntsekele, the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) would be meeting lawyers this morning on the way forward before engaging the Members of Parliament (MPs) later in the day.
Mr Ntsekele, who is also the Tsikoane Constituency MP, said the decision to seek legal counsel came after the MPs could not agree on the way forward, and also to ensure their next course of action is in the best interest of the nation.
ABC MPs, and their opposition partners from the Basotho National Party (BNP) and Reformed Congress of Lesotho (RCL), walked out of parliament on 23 June this year protesting the continued exile of their leaders and also demanding the dismissal of Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) commander Lieutenant-General Tlali Kamoli.
After parliament adjourned indefinitely on 1 July, the MPs vowed to continue the boycott until their leaders, party supporters and members of the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) also exiled in South Africa, return safely and unconditionally.
Former Prime Minister and ABC leader Thomas Thabane, his BNP and RCL counterparts Thesele ‘Maseribane and Keketso Rantšo respectively, fled for South Africa in May this year after alleging some LDF members, led by Lt-Gen Kamoli, were out to kill them.
However, they remain in South Africa and with parliament set to reopen tomorrow, the MPs are divided on whether or not to return to the august house while their demands have not been met by government.
Meanwhile, the MPs were also demanding answers over the killing of former LDF commander Lt-Gen Maaparankoe Mahao by the LDF on 25 June this year near his Mokema farm. Lt-Gen Mahao was gunned down allegedly as he resisted arrest for mutiny.
But according to Mr Ntsekele, the ABC had decided to consult its lawyers over the parliament issue to be guided accordingly. This came after the MPs were threatened with dismissal should they miss one-third of the house’s sittings as outlined by the country’s constitution.
“The party needs to be guided accordingly as the decision to boycott parliament was informed by specific reasons, so ending the protest should also be informed by concrete reasons.
“We need to make decisions based on clear issues. This is why we are supposed to be having these legal counsel as our action thereafter is going to affect the whole nation,” said Mr Ntsekele last night.
“However, I can also say in the interim, it is highly possible that we are not going to parliament as there are no reasons why we should end the boycott because our leaders are still outside the country and our demands have also not been met,” Mr Ntsekele said,
“Anyway, the final decision is going to be made tomorrow.”
The BNP, in contrast, has already announced its MPs would not be going to parliament, while the RCL is only going to make its position known today.
The BNP has seven MPs while the RCL has two. The seven parties in government have 65 MPs, and can conduct parliamentary business without the opposition legislators for as long as a minimum of 30 of them are present, which is the minimum number required for a sitting to take place in line with the constitution.