Lesotho waiting for SADC standby force

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There is currently no official word from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) on a proposed intervention in Lesotho, but indications are a 1 200-strong standby force could be headed to the mountain kingdom as early as next week.

Deputy Prime Minister Monyane Moleleki is reported by the Lesotho Times as having said the modalities of the force’s deployment were being worked out.

He indicated it was unlikely the force would be deployed until troop contributions from SADC countries were approved.
“We are expecting the deployment of the SADC standby force. I am not yet aware of the force’s specific rules of engagement,” Moleleki said.
“I think SADC is working on the force’s rules of engagement. On our side, we are expecting the deployment to commence next week.
“There is no way the many countries expected to deploy soldiers can send them all on the same day, but we are expecting it to begin early in November.

Namibia reportedly approved the deployment of 250 soldiers to Lesotho as part of the standby force set to consist of 1 099 troops, 30 civilians, 34 police officers, a pathologist, four scuba divers and a police mobile unit.

The reported US$$6.7 million cost of deploying the standby force will be carried by SADC the newspaper reported.

Angolan Foreign Affairs Minister, Manuel Augusto, was South Africa last week to brief SADC chair, South African President Jacob Zuma of the situation on the ground ahead of the deployment.

Augusto’s visit to Pretoria followed a meeting with Lesotho’s Foreign Affairs Minister Lesego Makgothi in Luanda.

Makgothi was in Angola after SADC defence chiefs earlier last month decided to send a third security assessment mission to Lesotho.

They also deliberated on the findings of a 40-member SADC technical assessment team in Lesotho late in September.

The team was dispatched by the September SADC Double Troika Summit in Pretoria to assess the security situation in Lesotho after the September 5 assassination of Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) commander, Lieutenant-General Khoantle Motšomotšo by sub-ordinates Brigadier Bulane Sechele and Colonel Tefo Hashatsi.



The summit approved Lesotho’s request for a standby force consisting of military, security, intelligence and civilian experts to assist the LDF in managing the security crisis Lesotho.