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Deal agreed to hold early election in crisis-hit Lesotho

02 October 2014, 19:26

Maseru - Lesotho's feuding political parties have agreed to hold early elections by February, in a bid to exit a crisis that has seen a coup attempt and running battles among the security forces.

"National general elections will be held towards the end of February 2015," said mediator and South African Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.

The exact date for the polls, originally set for 2017, will be set by King Letsie III, he added.

The agreement will see parliament reconvene on October 17 after being shuttered by Prime Minister Tom Thabane in June as he looked poised to lose a no-confidence vote.

Ramaphosa said the reconvened parliament would be limited to passing a budget and preparing the ground for elections, apparently ruling out a vote of no confidence.

Read also: Investigate Lesotho shootings - Ramaphosa

On August 30, Thabane was forced to flee the country, as the military attacked several police stations and Lesotho Defence Forces commander Tlali Kamoli refused to step down.

Kamoli remains at large, and has refused to cede command and has been accused of treason and murder.

Ramaphosa called on all members of the security services to do their bit to help the tiny mountain kingdom out of crisis.

"We call upon the leadership of the security arms of this country, in the forms of the police and the army, to do everything they can in the interests of the people of Lesotho and desist from having conflicts between themselves."

He added that police officers and military advisors from the Southern African bloc SADC would remain in the country until after the vote.

The latest conflagration came on Tuesday, when at least two policemen were in a gunfight with the military.

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