Lesotho Police Investigate own Officers Over Coup Killing

Lesotho’s police force is investigating some of its own officers for their possible role in an attempted military coup that left one policeman dead, senior commissioners have told AFP.

 At least two officers are being investigated as part of a wider treason and murder inquiry, suggesting the putsch which forced the prime minister to flee to South Africa may be broader and more intricately planned than first thought.

“There are allegations that some police were working with (the) military on this, and we’re looking into it,” Deputy Police Commissioner Masupha Masupha told AFP.

“Even I’ve been implicated. But investigating and charging are different things. If I find something, I won’t shy away from confronting anyone with their unlawful acts.”

Lehloka Maphatsoe, an assistant police commissioner who is also head of the Interpol national central bureau — told AFP on Monday that the cellphones of two police officers have been sent to neighbouring South Africa for analysis.

Police in Bloemfontein are checking for “suspicious communications” prior to the attacks and whether there were attempts to delete that evidence.

He cautioned that the allegations against the police were unproven and could be part of a “propaganda strategy to cause panic or distrust among members of the police service.”

Lesotho to Hold Election to Ease Political Crisis

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Lesotho will hold elections earlier than scheduled in 2017, in an effort to ease a political crisis that resulted in an apparent coup last month, southern African regional leaders said on Tuesday.

“The Leaders of the Coalition Government have agreed to bring forward the date of the elections from 2017 to the date to be agreed upon after consultations,” a statement from the Southern African Development Community said.

South African President Jacob Zuma, whose territory envelops Lesotho, called a meeting of regional leaders on Monday night to discuss security developments in Lesotho. Regional leaders urged Lesotho to lift the suspension of parliament and restore “constitutional normalcy”.

Lesotho’s PM Returns After Fleeing “Coup”

Thomas Thabane, Lesotho’s Prime Minister is back home after fleeing to South Africa due to the alleged coup attempt on Saturday.

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During the unrest, regional leaders rejected his call for troops to be deployed to restore order, because the unrest is thought to be linked to a struggle between Mr Thabane, (reportedly supported by the police), and Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing who has the loyalty of the army.

South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma held separate talks, under the auspices of the South African Development Community (SADC) regional bloc, with Mr Tabane and his rivals.The prime minister and his deputies in the coalition government are due to appear before the king later to present a report about the meeting.

The army on the other hand is however still denying the allegation of attempting to overthrow Thabane.

Coup Attempt in Lesotho?

The Kingdom of Lesotho has been caught up in what diplomats said seemed to be an attempted coup.

A diplomat from the nation’a capital, Maseru said on Saturday that, “Military police have surrounded State House and there are reports of gunfire.”

Some South African radio stations also reported that privately owned radio stations were off air in Lesotho.

Since June, political tension has been high when the Prime Minister, Thomas Thabane suspended the country’s parliament to avoid a no-confidence vote amid feuding in the two-year-old coalition government.

In return, Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing had vowed to form a new coalition that would expel Thabane.

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Lesotho has experienced quite a number of military coups, since its independence in 1966.  The year 1998 records the killing of at least 58 locals and 8 South African soldiers who died during a political stand-off and subsequent fighting, while  large parts of Maseru were damaged.