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Opposition MPs asked to leave SADC venue



MASERU – OPPOSITION MPs who tried to attend the SADC Double Troika Summit in Gaborone were asked to leave the summit venue on Tuesday morning, according to a Botswana newspaper report.

The Patriot reported that security personnel escorted the opposition members out of the summit venue.

The MPs wanted to petition SADC leaders to force the Lesotho government to implement the recommendations of the SADC Commission of Inquiry.

Mmegi, a respected Botswana newspaper, reported that police had escorted the MPs from the convention centre, where the meeting was held, “apparently for posing a threat” to Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili.

Lesego Makgothi, an All Basotho Convention MP, told Mmegi that the group of MPs had been standing by the drop-off point for heads of state when Mosisili arrived.

“Someone who identified himself as a deputy commissioner told us that we had five minutes to disperse from the area,” Makgothi said.

“We were a large group and perhaps the prime minister, having noticed us, became unsettled.

“We dispersed and it was fine with us because we were not invited to the summit. We were standing in an orderly way and it was a democratic way of silently demonstrating that and showing that all is not well in our paradise.”

“The MPs dispersed included one whose daughter was recently shot by their gate, while driving her father’s vehicle and it could have been a case of mistaken identity.”

Basotho National Party (BNP) spokesperson, Mofomobe Machesetsa, who was also in Gaborone, however gave thepost a different version of what happened.

He said the police did not ask the MPs to disperse as reported. Rather, he said, a deputy police commissioner who did not reveal his name came to ask what the MPs were doing at the venue.

“The allegation that we were escorted out of the venue is not correct,” Machesetsa said.

“The officer came and the MPs showed him their diplomatic passports and he agreed that we had diplomatic immunity.”

“He however said he did not want our presence to give the impression that the summit’s decision had been influenced.”

Machesetsa said the officer then asked if the other people in the group had diplomatic passports as well.

“We were in party regalia. When some of the people in our group said they did not have diplomatic passports he then said it would not be right for them to remain there. So when the other people were leaving the MPs said they might as well go with them”.

Machesetsa said the MPs had not gone to the summit to stage a demonstration but to present a side different to what the government was going to tell the SADC leaders.

“We wanted to be seen there. We wanted to show our presence.”

He said the MPs had achieved their mission because they managed to hold press conferences and have interviews with local and international media to tell their side of the story.

“We were never pushed out. If we had been pushed out I would not have remained at the venue to continue with the interview I was having,” he said.

Staff Reporter

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