Prime Minister returns to Lesotho after alleged coup

By Drum Digital
03 September 2014

Prime Minister Thomas Thabane has returned to Lesotho five days after alleging a coup by the army and fleeing to South Africa.

Prime Minister Thomas Thabane has returned to Lesotho five days after alleging a coup by the army and fleeing to South Africa, a government spokesman said Wednesday.

"The prime minister is at his residence" and is to meet leaders of his coalition government, Ramakhula Ramakhula told SAPA by telephone.

Thabane will resume work in order to restore normality, the spokesman said. Fearing for his life, Thabane fled Saturday to South Africa, which encircles the small kingdom of Lesotho, when soldiers attacked police stations and surrounded his residence. The army denied a coup and said it wanted to disarm "rogue elements" in the police force who were supplying weapons to some political factions. Thabane's deputy, Mothetjoa Metsing, has denied involvement in the unrest, which government sources said followed a decision by the premier to remove army chief Tlali Kamoli.

An army spokesman said Kamoli remains in charge of the forces, despite an earlier government announcement that a successor had been appointed. The army chief is seen as being close to Metsing, who has governed the country in a shaky coalition with Thabane and a third party since 2012 and who had vowed to oust the premier.

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) brokered a deal among the governing parties on Monday. They agreed to reopen parliament, which had been suspended by Thabane to avoid a no-confidence vote in June.

Thabane's first task will be to lift the suspension by informing King Letsie III, Ramakhula said, adding that the premier will also order police back to their posts and make clear who heads the army.

The mountain kingdom of 2 million residents has experienced frequent political unrest since independence from Britain in 1966.

-SAPA

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