The mandate of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Preventive Mission to Lesotho (SAPMIL) has been extended by six months.
The decision to leave the mission in place for longer in the mountain kingdom was taken this week during an SADC double troika heads of state summit, chaired by South African president Cyril Ramaphosa, in Luanda.
The just on 300-strong mission first took up station in Maseru at the beginning of December on instructions from the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Co-operation. At that time the regional bloc estimated the cost of the deployment at around the $6 million mark. A communique issued after this week’s summit makes no mention of costs.
It approves the extension of SAPMIL from May to November this year. It also calls on all political parties and stakeholders in the Kingdom of Lesotho “to accord the needed seriousness to the national dialogue and reforms processes as well as finding lasting solutions to the political and security challenges facing the country”.
The SAPMIL deployment is a contingent force and not the originally suggested battalion strength force. It comprises 207 military personnel, 15 intelligence officers, 24 police officers and 12 civilian experts.
An earlier SADC statement said SAPMIL would support Lesotho in its quest to restore peace, security and stability to the country and not take over or replace the Lesotho Defence Force or other security institutions in the country.
“It should not be considered an intruder or an invader but rather be seen as brothers and sisters from the region willing to assist the Basotho people.”
Ramaphosa is reported as having said after the summit it considered reports and assessed progress made.
“There has been progress in the sense that the situation in Lesotho has stabilised. Lesotho is now working on reforms decided on by previous summits,” the South African president, previously appointed a facilitator for the country while he was deputy president, said.