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Troika defence ministers to meet

Defence ministers of Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe are expected in Lesotho for the formal signing of a security agreement with the government, but the date is yet to be confirmed, a South African foreign affairs official told IRIN.

Botswana President Festus Mogae, who also holds his country’s defence portfolio, was supposed to lead the troika team, “but it is not clear yet” whether the ministers will assemble in Lesotho on Friday, the South African official said. The signing ceremony was initially due to have taken place last week.

The security agreement should mark a vote of confidence in Lesotho’s political reconciliation process and the successful retraining of the Lesotho army after political upheaval in the country in 1998 prompted military intervention by South Africa and Botswana. Five companies of the Lesotho army, which was actively involved in the political disturbances, have been retrained by Botswana, South African and Zimbabwean instructors since May 1999.

Meanwhile, as political tensions grow over a likely postponement of elections scheduled for April this year, Lesotho Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili on Wednesday wrote to South African President Thabo Mbeki. The content of the letter is at the moment unknown. Senior South African foreign affairs officials on Thursday met with a member of Lesotho’s Interim Political Authority (IPA), a cross-party body charged with preparing the country for fresh polls.

“We are concerned, together with the troika we are very much concerned, over a delay in the elections,” the foreign affairs source said. “As we see it, the elections are likely to be postponed to the end of the year.”

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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