Is This Mandela's Way of Peace? S. Africa Military Enter Lesotho Troops Sent Sept. 22 to End Anarchy Sparked by Protests against Election Result. Buthelezi Is in Command

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When does "people power" become anarchy, forcing a "big power" to intervene?

It's a tough question for the new South Africa, whose president, Nelson Mandela, is determined to spread democracy throughout the troubled African continent.

Mr. Mandela lives with the legacy of the former apartheid government that tried to impose its will on the rest of southern Africa through military intervention. Mandela would rather "jaw-jaw" than "war-war," putting him in conflict with the presidents of Zimbabwe, Namibia, and Angola. In August, they thumbed their noses at Africa's most important leader by intervening militarily in the messy Congo conflict and thus defeating Mandela"s diplomatic efforts.

Closer to home, Mandela learned this week that sometimes only might will set things right. Just before dawn Sept. 22, some 600 South African soldiers crossed into the tiny kingdom of Lesotho.

For much of its history, Lesotho's politics was influenced by South Africa's apartheid government, which installed and deposed leaders at will.

Mangosuthu Buthelezi, who is acting president while Mandela is traveling abroad, told Parliament yesterday that military intervention was justified because the Lesotho capital of Maseru is "a city under siege." He read from "desperate" letters from embattled Lesotho Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili, who on Sept. 16 and 19 begged South Africa and other nations of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to send in a peacekeeping force to reestablish order. Two hundred troops from Botswana were expected to join the South Africans.

For seven weeks, Lesotho opposition parties and civilians have maintained a vigil in front of King Letsie's palace to push their view that the May 23 elections won by Mr. Mosisili's Lesotho Congress for Democracy were rigged. The vigil turned into a siege in the past 10 days, with youths hijacking government vehicles, chasing government officials from offices, and snipers shooting at Cabinet ministers.

The opposition parties claim widespread electoral fraud allowed the government to win 79 out of 80 seats with just 61 per cent of the vote.

Mandela has taken up the issue with his colleagues in the SADC, a regional organization he believes can build peace and prosperity in Africa. A South African supreme court justice investigated the Lesotho elections. He delivered his report to Mandela earlier this month. …