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In Lesotho, US Orders Departure of Mission Families, Ban Silent on TV Ban

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 1 -- After Lesotho Prime Minister Thomas Thabane fled his country to South Africa, the US State Department spokesperson on September 1 stated

"The United States remains deeply concerned by uncertainty over the political process and the state of public security in Lesotho’s capital Maseru.  We continue to call upon government officials and all parties to reach a resolution through peaceful dialogue.  We urge government officials, leaders of the Lesotho Defense Forces, and the Lesotho Mounted Police Service to respect democratic processes in line with the Lesotho Constitution and the rule of law.  Multiparty democracy is important to inclusive political development and economic progress in Lesotho, and any threat to that model would be a setback not only for the nation, but also for democracy in the region. 
"The United States recognizes South Africa’s regional leadership as Chair of the South African Development Community’s Organ for Politics, Defense and Security, and other SADC members as they work with Lesotho’s leaders to reach a political solution.
"The U.S. Embassy in Maseru continues to conduct essential services, but has issued an Emergency Message to U.S. citizens advising that the Department of State has ordered the departure of non-employed family members of U.S. Mission personnel due to concerns over a possible deterioration of the security situation in Lesotho.  The Emergency Message advises that the U.S. Embassy in Lesotho will be open September 2-3 for emergency American Citizens Services only, and that citizens should be aware the Embassy may be forced to suspend operations without advance notice if the security situation deteriorates further.  U.S. citizens seeking assistance in departing Lesotho can contact the U.S. Embassy at USConsularMaseru [at]"

  On August 31 the UN had echoed the concern, from Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, “concerned about the reported military takeover in Lesotho” and “calls for respect for the constitutional order and democratic rule.”

   Ban said nothing about censorship or the media black out.

    But from Johannesburg, the government of South Africa issued a statement that it “has verified that the Lesotho Defense Force did take over the radio and TV stations, resulting in a total black out in broadcast.”

  That seems it might have been a key thing for Ban Ki-moon to mention, especially 15 hours later. But no. This is a trend noted by the Free UN Coalition for Access.

  Meanwhile, this question: who will represent Lesotho at the upcoming UN General Assembly? Here's a speech by Lesotho last fall on de-colonization, French Polynesia and Western Sahara. And this year?


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