Maseru — Southern Africa’s regional body on Wednesday said it was sending a rapid-response team to probe the assassination of Lesotho’s army commander, a killing it lashed as “barbaric” and a blow to peace efforts.
The Southern African Development Community (Sadc) has been trying to foster peace in Lesotho, but the death threatens to revive unrest in the mountain kingdom.
Army commander Khoantle Motsomotso was shot dead at a barracks on Tuesday when two senior officers — widely seen as from a rival faction — tried to force their way into his office.
The two officers were killed by Motsomotso’s bodyguards.
The bloody shootout took place just two months after elections meant to usher in a new era of stability.
“Sadc strongly condemns this indescribable and inexcusable barbaric and heinous act,” the group said in a statement.
“This development is a serious blight and setback to the ongoing efforts to restore peace, security and stability to the Kingdom of Lesotho.”
The Sadc team, due to arrive in Lesotho yesterday, will work to “establish the root causes of the assassination and subsequently recommend the appropriate courses of action.”
The two officers killed in the shootout — Tefo Hashatsi and Bulane Sechele — were among soldiers that the Sadc has said should be prosecuted for the murder of former army commander Maaparankoe Mahao in 2015.
Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s new coalition took office in June after the third general election since 2012, as Lesotho endures a series of political upheavals. Thabane (78) previously served as premier after the 2012 elections.
Meanwhile, troops from several southern African countries are deploying to Lesotho amid tensions over the shooting death of the mountain kingdom’s military commander.
Lesotho’s defence minister, Sentje Lebona, said yesterday that the Southern African Development Community, a regional bloc, is sending forces to keep order.
Lebona says the force includes troops from South Africa, Angola and Mozambique but declined to comment on the size.-News24