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Thursday, 1 November, 2001, 17:51 GMT
Treason charges for Lesotho opposition
Unrest in Lesotho
The 1998 riots caused loss to life and property
Lesotho Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili, has told parliament that opposition leaders involved in an army mutiny three years ago will be charged with high treason.

Summarising a report by a judicial commission set up to investigate the mutiny, Mr Mosisili said the report showed three opposition parties were responsible for the protest action which began at the king's residence and spread to other areas of the capital.

Lesotho voting
Election results sparked off troubles

Soldiers sympathetic to the opposition intervened after they had denounced the results of the general election which they lost in 1998.

The government called in troops from South Africa and Botswana to help suppress the mutiny and as a result at least 75 civilians and soldiers were killed and hundreds of dollars worth of property damaged and looted.

Special tribunal

At the time the opposition called the intervention a violation of the country's sovereign integrity.

The prime minister said in his speech on Thursday, broadcast live on radio and television, that it was clear that the opposition alliance had been planning to overthrow the government.

Looting in Maseru
Looters ran away with anything they could get hold of

He said that in the light of a recommendation that legal action be taken, he proposed that a special tribunal be set up to deal with the cases.

He said they would include the 33 soldiers court-martialled last year for involvement in the uprising.

Fresh elections are due next year and political analysts in Maseru say that the prosecution of those said to be behind the disturbances may well trigger another round of violent disturbances.

See also:

25 Sep 98 | From Our Own Correspondent
South Africa's 'unofficial province'
10 Dec 99 | From Our Own Correspondent
Lesotho's white gold
17 Aug 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Lesotho
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