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Deposed Lesotho PM Set to go Home as Army Uncorks Guns

FILE - Lesotho's Prime Minister Thomas Thabane attends a European Union-Africa summit in Brussels, Apr. 2, 2014.

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has sent a diplomatic mission and some military personnel to protect Lesotho Prime Minister Thomas Thabane, who had fled the mountain kingom Saturday, after an alleged coup attempt by the military.

Mr. Thabane is reportedly expected back in Maseru on Tuesday, now that the army, implicated in the coup attempt, has guaranteed his safety, following mediation by South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe, currently chairing the regional body.

However, the situation in the country of about two million people remains fluid.

South African President Jacob Zuma, who chairs the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation, reportedly met with Prime Minister Thabane, Deputy Prime Minister, Mothetjoa Metsing and Morena T.J Maseribane, Minister of Gender and Youth, Sports and Recreation in Pretoria, South Africa, last night.

The SADC executive secretary, Stergomena Lawrence Tax, also attended the meeting. A statement released by Zuma read, “The chairperson of the organ welcomed the joint commitment of the leaders of the coalition government and pledged to render the SADC Troika full support with a view to speedily restore the stability and security in the country. In addition, SADC agreed to send a SADC facilitator to the Kingdom of Lesotho to work with the coalition government as they implement the agreed roadmap. SADC further agreed to deploy an observer team on politics, defence and security as a matter of urgency.”

Thabane's All Basotho Convention party and Metsing's Lesotho Congress for Democracy formed a coalition with a third party after 2012 elections and since then conflict has simmered.

Mr. Thabane is alleged to have worsened the situation after suspending parliament since June, when he allegedly dodged a vote of no confidence.

Lesotho's army Major General Lineo Poopa addresses the media at the Makoanyane Barracks in Maseru, on Sep. 1, 2014.
Lesotho's army Major General Lineo Poopa addresses the media at the Makoanyane Barracks in Maseru, on Sep. 1, 2014.

The prime minister’s spokesperson, Thabo Thakalekoala told VOA Zimbabwe Service that there was a coup attempt on Thabane, despite reports to the contrary. He said the situation remains tense.

VOA Zimbabwe Service also reached Lesotho defense forces spokesman Ntlele Ntoi, who disputes that there was a coup attempt on the prime minister. He says the situation is the country is normal.

Dewa Mavhinga, a senior researcher with Human Rights Watch, said SADC did well in condemning the coup.