Lesotho since independence

2017-06-01 14:22
Picture: AFP

Picture: AFP

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Maseru - Key dates since independence in the south African mountain state of Lesotho, which holds early legislative elections on Saturday after years of power struggles:

Restive monarchy

On October 4, 1966, the former British protectorate of Basutoland gains independence. King Moshoeshoe II is crowned, though in 1970 he is forced into exile for several months.

He is again forced into exile in 1990 after a military putsch, and is replaced by his son Letsie III.

In 1993 the country returns to a constitutional monarchy after 23 years of coups and military regimes.

On January 25, 1995, King Moshoeshoe II is restored to the throne after his son abdicates.

On February 7, 1996, Letsie III, 32, again takes the throne after the death of his father in a car accident the month before.

Mutinies and foreign interventions

On February 16, 1997, the army mounts an assault on the police headquarters in the capital, ending an 11-day mutiny by most of the royal police.

On May 23, 1998, the ruling Lesotho Congress for Democracy party wins 79 out of 80 seats in the national assembly at general elections.

But a dispute over the election results plunges the country into political crisis.

Demonstrations and an army mutiny prompt an intervention by South African and Botswana troops, and seventy-five people are killed in clashes in the capital, which is badly damaged.

On February 17 and 18, 2007, the LCD, led by Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili, wins 61 of 120 seats in parliament. The country goes through another political crisis as the opposition contests the results.

A curfew is imposed in Maseru from June 16-24 after a series of attacks on ministers and their bodyguards.

On April 22, 2009, the prime minister escapes an assassination attempt.

Voting for change

On May 30, 2012, Mosisili resigns after failing to secure a majority in parliament when five opposition parties form an alliance against him in legislative elections.

On June 7 Thomas Thabane, leader of an opposition party, is named prime minister, marking the first changeover of power between political parties through the ballot box.

Failed coup

On August 30, 2014, the army, led by sacked army chief General Tlali Kamoli, seizes control of police headquarters. Thabane calls the attack an attempted coup.

Thabane had suspended Parliament to avoid a no-confidence vote.

He flees to South Africa, and on September 3 returns home with the help of mediators from the Southern African Development Community (SADC). General Kamoli is reinstated.

On February 28, 2015, Thabane's All Basotho Convention (ABC) is beaten by the Democratic Congress (DC) in legislative elections.

The DC forms a small parliamentary majority with several small parties and elects Mosisili as prime minister.

Early elections

On November 10, 2016, four ministers are fired. Four others immediately resign in protest and 20 deputies decide to abandon the fragile parliamentary majority.

On February 12, 2017, Thabane returns again from South Africa, pledging to win back power via the ballot box two years after fleeing in fear of his life.

On March 1 Mosisili loses a no-confidence vote in parliament. Early elections are announced for June 3.

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