Lesotho PM expects praise for early resignation

2020-02-25 22:04
Lesotho Prime Minister Thomas Thabane.

Lesotho Prime Minister Thomas Thabane. (Thulani Mbele/Gallo Images/Sowetan)

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Lesotho Prime Minister Thomas Thabane on Tuesday lauded himself for "voluntarily" agreeing to resign after he was accused of having a hand in the 2017 murder of his estranged wife.

The premier has bowed to pressure to step down and announced July 31 as his official resignation date, citing advanced age.

He appeared in court on Monday for allegedly acting in "common purpose" in the killing of 58-year-old Lipolelo Thabane, with whom he was in the process of divorcing.

The matter was deferred to the High Court, where he is expected to be formally charged on a date that has not yet been decided.

Thabane's All Basotho Convention (ABC) party has asked him to leave office "immediately" and nominated chairperson Sam Rapapa as his successor.

During an address to parliament on Tuesday, Thabane complained about the lack of praise for his decision to retire early.

"I had hoped that this parliament would set a record today of someone stepping down by cutting short their tenure," said Thabane, aged 80.

"Not many people would do that but I am doing it, and instead of being given a pat on the shoulder, I get insults," he added. "I don't understand you people."

Lipolelo Thabane's murder sent shockwaves through Lesotho - a tiny landlocked nation of 2.2 million with a history of political turmoil.

She was gunned down outside her home in the capital Maseru just two days before her husband took office.

The accusations against her husband came after communications records from the scene of the murder included Thabane's mobile phone number.

His current wife Maesaiah Thabane, 42, whom he married two months after Lipolelo's death, is considered a co-conspirator in the murder case.

She has already been charged with murder and is out on bail.

Thabane's defence lawyer has argued that his client should be granted immunity from prosecution for as long as he remained in office.

The prime minister has yet to comment on the accusations. He maintains that he decided to resign due to "old age".

"I am my grand-kids' grandfather," he told parliament. "Not yours."

Read more on:    thomas thabane  |  lesotho  |  southern africa

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