Lesotho ‘Coup’: Prime Minister Returns After Fleeing
Lesotho’s Prime Minister, Thomas Thabane, has returned home after fleeing the mountain kingdom to neighbouring South Africa on Saturday.
Thabane, who has been in a fractious coalition government with his political rival, Deputy Prime Minister, Mothetjoa Metsing, left for neighbouring South Africa on Saturday (August 30) after the army surrounded his residence and police stations in Lesotho’s capital, Maseru, and gunshots rang out.
One policeman was shot dead and four others wounded during the confrontation, according to police.
At the time of fleeing, Thabane had accused the military of staging a coup. Regional leaders rejected his call for troops to be deployed to restore order.
The army denied trying to force the Prime Minister out of power, saying it had moved against police officers suspected of planning to arm a political faction in the small southern African kingdom.
The unrest is thought to be linked to a struggle between Mr Thabane, reportedly supported by the police, and Deputy Prime Minister, Mothetjoa Metsing, said to have the loyalty of the army.
Diplomats in Maseru told Reuters on Saturday that the army was largely seen as loyal to the Deputy Prime Minister, while the police force largely supported the Prime Minister.
Regional power, South Africa, condemned the army’s actions and later invited the Deputy Prime Minister to talks there on Sunday, Lesotho’s Minister of Communications, Science and Technology, Selibe Mochoboroane, said. He did not specify who the talks would be with.
Deputy Prime Minister, Mothetjoa Metsing, has, however, taken charge of the government after the Prime Minister fled.
People on the streets of Maseru said the situation appeared to be returning to normality.
Mr Thabane has headed a unity government since elections in May 2012, but suspended parliament sessions in June to avoid a vote of no confidence amid feuding in his coalition.
Lesotho, which is surrounded by South Africa, has experienced several coups since independence in 1966.