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Blow for PM’s power motion



MASERU – THE opposition’s motion to clip the prime minister’s power suffered a major blow on Monday after civic group successfully called for its withdrawal.
The Development for Peace Education (DPE) demanded that the public be consulted before the parliament discusses the motion.
The DPE argued that the motion is so important that it cannot be passed without input from the public.

The motion, lodged in by the Popular Front for Democracy (PFD) leader Advocate Lekhetho Rakuoane, was immediately withdrawn.
The main goal of the motion was to strip the prime minister of the powers to advise the king to dissolve the parliament and call a fresh election if he loses a vote of no confidence. Although the opposition couched the motion as an attempt to preserve the parliament’s tenure and avoid expensive elections, it is clear that it’s part of the grand scheme to topple Prime Minister Thomas Thabane.

The motion was supposed to be a precursor to the vote of no confidence against Thabane. The plan was that once Thabane loses the power to advise the king to dissolve parliament he will fall on his own without taking the MPs down with him.  That way the MPs would only have to replace Thabane instead of facing a new election. With the motion now in limbo, the MPs remain vulnerable if they try to oust Thabane because he could retaliate by triggering an election.

In its petition to Speaker of Parliament, Sephiri Motanyane, on Monday, the DPE said it is aware that National Assembly is set to discuss the ninth Amendment to the Constitution. The DPE said such an amendment bill should be subjected to a public inquiry before it is brought to parliament.  “We want the National Assembly to exercise its power to defer the Bill pending the responsible portfolio committee gathering voices from the citizens and different stakeholders to inform the law,” DPE said.

The DPE submitted the petition on the same day the Bill was being read for the first time in the parliament.
Adv Rakuone was already reading the Bill when Motanyane told him of the DPE’s petition. After almost two hours of haggling the MPS agreed to refer the Bill to the portfolio committee that will consult the public.
The DPE’s intervention could provide temporary relieve for Thabane who faces a no confidence motion brought by hostile MPs from his own party.
But judging by the trend, it is possible that the DPE could demand that the no confidence motion be subjected public scrutiny as well. If that happens Thabane could breathe easy for a little while as he plots his way out of trouble.

Thooe Ramolibeli

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