The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has extended the mandate of the Preventive Mission in Lesotho (SAPMIL) peacekeeping troops from May until November 2018, the 16-nation body said in a communiqué released Tuesday.
The SADC decision came during a summit in the Angolan capital of Luanda attended by Prime Minister Tom Thabane and other heads of state, including chairman and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, who has served as special envoy to the small mountain kingdom in the past.
The SAPMIL force is made up of 269 military, police and other security personnel, more than half of them from Angola and serving under Angolan leader Matias Bertino Matondo. They were deployed last November to help maintain order following the September 2017 assassination of Lt. Gen. Khoantle Motšomotšothe, the former commander of Lesotho Defence Force (LDF).
The creation of the peacekeeping force was approved by the SADC after a fact-finding team identified “a volatile security situation” and an “urgent need to assist the Kingdom of Lesotho in restoring law and order” after Motšomotšothe’s death. It followed the fatal 2015 shooting of previous military chief Maaparankoe Mahao, and contributed to the ongoing instability in Lesotho.
The SADC summit participants noted progress on dialogue between the government and political opposition, but again urged Thabane to prioritize reforms that are part of a long-delayed roadmap for his country. He is expected to file a progress report in August, with the expectation that Constitutional and Security Sector reforms should be completed by May 2019.
Image: SADC file