SA foils Lesotho coup

2014-08-31 07:52
Lesotho PM Tom Thabane (Alexander Joe, AFP)

Lesotho PM Tom Thabane (Alexander Joe, AFP)

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Johannesburg - In a pre-dawn operation, a group of South African special forces helped whisk Lesotho Prime Minister Tom Thabane across the border to safety just hours before a raid on his house during an attempted coup.

According to the Sunday Times, the South African soldiers, who are based in Phalaborwa, Limpopo, had moved into Lesotho on Friday afternoon and were accompanied by a group of diplomats.

Local diplomats say the South African government has been trying to broker a peace deal in the mountain kingdom for more than two months, reports the newspaper. It reported that trouble has been brewing in the country since June, after Thabane – who has close ties to the controversial Gupta family – dissolved parliament amid rumours that MPs were going to pass a vote of no confidence against him.

It all came to a head on Saturday when the military seized power in a coup.

Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported that Thabane had fled to SA in fear of his life.

"I have been removed from control not by the people but by the armed forces, and that is illegal," Thabane told the BBC.

"I came into South Africa this morning and I will return as soon as my life is not in danger," he said.

"I will not go back to Lesotho to get killed."

Lesotho's military seized control of police headquarters and the premier's residence in the capital Maseru in the early hours of Saturday, but later withdrew, a government minister told AFP.

"The armed forces, the special forces of Lesotho, have taken the headquarters of the police," said sports minister and leader of the Basotho National Party, Thesele Maseribane.

Lesotho's military however denied it had seized power, a spokesperson told an SA television station. Instead, the army's operation was aimed only at disarming police which were preparing to provide arms to certain political parties in Lesotho, military spokesperson Major Ntele Ntoi told the ANN7 news channel.

However, the SA government said it was not immediately sending troops to Lesotho.

Read more on:    tom thabane  |  lesotho

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