Defiant Lesotho PM shows no sign of resigning

Thomas Motsoahae Thabane is seated at the Summit of Heads of State and Government at the OR Tambo Building in Pretoria.
Thomas Motsoahae Thabane is seated at the Summit of Heads of State and Government at the OR Tambo Building in Pretoria.
Gulshan Khan, AFP

Lesotho's embattled prime minister appeared far from quitting after the attorney general advised him that he could not be forced to resign despite a scandal over his former wife's murder.

The tiny southern African kingdom has been plagued by political instability since the start of this year after police accused Thomas Thabane of having a hand in the killing of his estranged wife in June 2017.

Thabane, 80, has denied involvement but has faced mounting pressure to quit.

He had been expected to resign by May 22 when a new government is due to be installed after his coalition disbanded in parliament on Monday.

Thabane, whose elected term is due to end in 2022, had in January, set himself a target to leave office by July 31 over his advanced age.

On Tuesday, Thabane told AFP he intended to hand in his resignation on May 13, although he was still consulting.

In has emerged that on the day he had planned to resign, he received legal advice from the attorney general saying he could not be compelled to leave.

In the five-page latter, Haae Phoofolo said: "The prime minister cannot for any reason be compelled to resign," according to documents leaked to the press on Saturday.

Thabane can only be removed from office by a vote of no confidence in parliament, the attorney general said.

"In the circumstances it would be unlawful if the prime minister is forced out of office through a process that is not sanctioned by the constitution.

"It would be unlawful to force him out of office without following the requirements of the law as that would amount to a coup," said the attorney general.

Rivals in his own All Basotho Convention (ABC) party and outside have been pushing for his early departure.

Thabane's deputy in the ABC party, professor Nqosa Mahao said: "The crisis has been created by the attorney general's advice because he is essentially advising the prime minister not to resign."

thomas thabane in Pretoria
Thomas Motsoahae Thabane is seated at the Summit of Heads of State and Government at the OR Tambo Building in Pretoria.

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