MASERU — Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili (pictured) says he has little time remaining in power as the leader of the government and the ruling Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) party.
Mosisili said this while speaking on Tuesday at a press conference to brief the media about his trip to the African Union Summit in Tripoli, Libya and the SADC Summit in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Mosisili made the remarks after a journalist asked him if it was not odd that democratically elected African leaders also took the opportunity to attend the celebration of Muamar Gaddafi’s 40-year-rule of Libya after coming to power through a coup d’état in 1969.
Mosisili said the fact that he attended the celebrations did not mean that he supported the idea of staying in power for 40 years.
He said he had no intention of remaining in power for that long adding that he had little time remaining in office as both prime minister and leader of LCD.
“I Pakalitha Mosisili assure you that I do not have plans to cling to power for a long time,” he said.
“I will not take 40 years like some African leaders who acquired power after military coups.”
He however said the exact time of his retirement would be discussed by the LCD first before he goes public about specific details like dates.
Mosisili said although he attended Gaddafi’s celebrations he was not going to imitate him by staying in power for a long time.
“The fact that I attended the 40-year celebration of Libya under the leadership of Colonel Gaddafi should not make people conclude that I will imitate him and rule for 40 years,” Mosisili said.
Mosisili attended the celebration of Gaddafi’s rule two weeks ago, accompanied by the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF)’s special guard of honour.
“When we were alone as heads of state and government we discussed this issue briefly. Was it correct that we celebrated a coup?”
This is the first time that Mosisili has officially talked about his intention to retire.
Although he has hinted about the issue in the past his statements did not come this close to clearly indicate that he would retire soon.
The last time he hinted it was when he used a Sesotho idiom which means anything that does not come to an end brings bad luck, Se sa feleng sea hlola.
Although this basically means that everything has to come to an end many interpreted it to mean that he was on his way out.
Mosisili has also in the past hinted about the issue at LCD rallies but only when he is blasting opponents and some party members perceived to me sowing seeds of discontent by clamouring for his exit.
But this is the first time that Mosisili has publicly mentioned retirement while speaking in his capacity as prime minister.
The LCD had either shied away from discussing Mosisili’s retirement or they have frowned upon outsiders that might want to discuss the party’s succession issue.
Senior members have also avoided challenging Mosisili’s position at party conferences to elect the leadership but it has never been proven whether this was a result of an unwritten party policy, fear or loyalty to him.
The government and LCD-owned media have also avoided the issue.
LCD newspaper, Mololi complained bitterly about people who were discussing Mosisili’s succession issue in different political forums.
The issue, according to Mololi, was the sole prerogative of the ruling party.
Yet there have been some producers who have tried to generate public debate about the issue.
Mosisili mentions his possible retirement at a time when Lesotho is featuring at SADC meetings over its political impasse regarding the issue of proportional representation seats in parliament.
In fact Lesotho has constantly featured on the agenda since 2007.
Mosisili said he is embarrassed with this.
“I feel very embarrassed with this and I do not think any of you is not embarrassed with the fact that we are counted among politically unstable countries in the SADC region.”
Together with Zimbabwe, Madagascar and the DRC, Lesotho is one of the four SADC countries grappling with internal political disputes.
Mosisili has been prime minister since May 29, 1998.
Under his leadership the LCD won majorities in the 2002 and 2007 elections.
Mosisili was elected the leader of the newly formed LCD on February 21, 1998 after the late Prime Minister Ntsu Mokhehle stepped down due to poor health.
Mosisili was elected to parliament from the Qacha’s Nek Constituency and became Minister of Education in 1993 when the Basutoland Congress Party (BCP) took power.
In April 1994, he was briefly kidnapped along with four other ministers by soldiers.
The then deputy prime minister Selometsi Baholo, whom Mosisili was kidnapped with, was killed.
Mosisili was then appointed deputy prime minister in January 1995.
The LCD was formed in 1997 under the leadership of Mokhehle after it split from the BCP.