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South African comment on the unrest in Lesotho

WHATEVER JUSTIFICATION there might have been for the South African- led military intervention in Lesotho, it has become obvious that the exercise was fraught with serious misjudgements and inept intelligence. It surely required no great feat of military judgement to have realised at the outset that although the core of the problem might have been a group of mutinous rebels in the Lesotho Defence Force, the situation had become infused by civilian disorder. The government faces a crisis of legitimacy which military intervention can only exacerbate. It is easy to be wise after the event, but the failure to secure property, the inordinate time it is taking to stabilise the country, the obviously widespread antagonism to the SADC's action, the admission by the SANDF that it miscalculated resistance, all point to the need for a comprehensive inquiry into the planning and execution of this military exercise.

Cape Argus

Yesterday's intervention, which appears not to have been sanctioned by King Letsie III, is likely to swing popular opinion against South Africa. Until now, the Basotho have accepted South Africa's influence and economic support but have been determined to remain independent so as to keep their monarchy. With fighting still raging around Makoanyane, looting progressing and Maseru in flames, Buthelezi's recent promise of talks would seem optimistic.

Mail & Guardian

WE SURELY have no right to cross the border of a country to restore law and order on behalf of a government whose legitimacy is unclear. We messed it up. Instead of assisting democracy we have hampered it. The problem we face now will be how to extricate ourselves without doing more harm. One thing is for sure: we will do so without honour. Let it end sooner rather than later.

Daily Dispatch

SOUTH AFRICA has used gun-boat diplomacy to try to end political unrest in Lesotho. Whether it will facilitate or hinder a political solution remains to be seen. A more resolute and even-handed political and diplomatic initiative would possibly have made the military option unnecessary.

WOZ (Internet)

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