MASERU — Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili last weekend publicly thanked members of the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) for saving his life during attacks at his State House residence on April 22.
Mosisili was speaking at the Army Day celebrations held on Saturday at the Lesotho Defence Force Air Wing in the capital Maseru.
He said the attacks were a test of the capability and professionalism of the army.
“I wish to thank God Almighty that I am still alive but also to thank members of the LDF who were on duty at the State House on that fateful night.
“The special forces comprising members of the police service and LDF displayed an excellent performance and foiled the enemy’s plans,” Mosisili said.
Armed gunmen stormed Mosisili’s residence in Maseru West and opened fire on the prime minister’s residence.
Four men, believed to have been foreign mercenaries, were killed in the shoot-out with security forces.
Two mercenaries were arrested in Lesotho while seven others were caught in South Africa while attempting to flee.
The government later said the attack was an attempted coup aimed at overthrowing Mosisili.
Mosisili said Army Day was a day to review the operations of the army in their service to the public.
“When the army gives excellent services to the nation, there reigns peace and stability in a country. But when the army fails to give services, major problems prevail,” Mosisili said.
He said the LDF had made significant progress since its establishment in 1980.
Mosisili said the weekend events were aimed at showing the readiness of the army to protect and defend the country.
He paid tribute to the government of India which has been assisting with the reform of the Lesotho army.
Speaking at the same occasion, LDF commander Lieutenant General Thuso Motanyane said the attacks at State House had left a blot on the defence forces’ achievements. He said as a result of the attacks he was reluctant to allow the commemoration of Army Day this year.
“As a result of April 22 attacks, I was very much reluctant to commemorate this year’s Army Day.
“The most challenging question being while we have failed to protect our own camp, how can we assure security to this nation and its property entrusted to our care,” Motanyane said.
Motanyane however said calling off the event would please the enemy and send wrong signals.
“I had a feeling that calling it off would not only please the enemy but also send a wrong message that its mission had been successfully accomplished.
“Besides, the major assumption is that cancelling the event would dampen the enthusiasm of multiples of companies doing business with the LDF. We take solace, however, in the wise saying that those who fight us help us in strengthening our morale and sharpening our skills,” Motanyane said.
There have been unconfirmed media reports that Members of Parliament (MPs) and opposition politicians wanted the army chief to explain the circumstances surrounding the events of April 22.
Also present at the occasion was the commander of Umbutu Swaziland Defence Force, Lieutenant General Sobantu Dlamini.