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Lesotho’s Reform Authority Tries to Ease Political Instability

FILE - A map of Lesotho.
FILE - A map of Lesotho.

Following recent attempts to remove Lesotho’s prime minister from power, calls for constitutional amendments are rising to ease political instability..

The National Reforms Authority in Lesotho, which is backed by the Southern African Development Community, is suggesting a number of changes to the constitution, including an amendment that would make it difficult to quickly fire prime ministers.

“The prime minister will be removed by two-thirds majority, not (by) who has a simple majority," NRA chairperson Pelele Letsoela told VOA. "So, it's no more going to be easy to remove the prime minister,’

There have been efforts to remove current Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro after he fired three ministers and a deputy in April.

Majoro replaced former Prime Minister Thomas Thabane, who was pressured to resign after he was accused of involvement in the murder of his estranged wife.

When Majoro took office last year in May, citizens were eager to see reforms in the country.

"People are excited, they are now waiting to see what is going to happen, [what] this government is going to do differently from the one that he's replacing,” said Motlamelle Anthony Kapa, an associate professor in political science at the National University of Lesotho.

Another proposed amendment by the NRA calls for the creation of a new post for commander in chief.

“The most important issue on the constitutional amendment for all of us on the issue of security,” Letsoela said. “For the first time, we are going to have a commander in chief. That is going to be engraved in our Constitution.”

New panels proposed

A security council and security commission would also be formed under the proposed changes, according to Letsoela.

Letsoela also said increasing the number of women in parliament is also a priority.

“What we have proposed and we are dissenting to parliament is that the proportional representation part of it should be used to enhance more participation of women in parliament.”

In Eswatini, another small southern African nation, King Mswati III is under pressure from pro-democracy groups who have been protesting for months, demanding political reforms.

“In this country we are not expecting any problem,” Letsoela told VOA. “In fact, the people of Lesotho are asking for more powers for the king."

Unlike Eswatini, Africa’s last absolute monarchy, Lesotho is a constitutional monarchy. And although Lesotho has a king, he is still obligated to abide by the constitution, Letsoela said.

In 2016, the Southern African Development Community proposed changes to Lesotho’s constitution, security, media, judiciary and governance.

If passed, the proposed amendments by the country’s reform authority would be an extensive overhaul of the political system.