Lesotho’s Prime Minister Thomas Thabane will be charged with the murder of his estranged wife.
Deputy Commissioner of Police Paseka Mokete said on Thursday that Thabane will appear before a magistrate court Friday “to face a murder charge in connection with the killing of Lipolelo Thabane.”
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“Mr. Thabane has already made known his decision to resign to the cabinet in its seating on Tuesday,” Spokesperson for the ruling party All Basotho Convention (ABC) Montoeli Masoetsa told the AFP news agency.
Court documents have made Thabane a person of interest in the 2017 murder of his estranged wife.
The indictment makes Thabane the first African leader to be charged with a domestic murder while in office, in a case that has shocked the tiny mountain kingdom, BBC reports.
Announcing his decision to step down at the end of July, the 80-year-old Thabane praised his time in office saying: “I have served my country diligently.”
“I’ve worked for a peaceful and stable Lesotho. Today… at my age, I have lost most of my energy … I hereby retire as prime minister with effect from the end of July.”
The prime minister failed to show up in court on Friday to be charged. Lesotho’s Deputy Commissioner of Police told CNN Thabane may be unwell.
Thabane’s ex-wife, Lipolelo, was shot and killed some two days before he was sworn into office in June of 2017. The couple had been involved in a prolonged divorce after separating in 2012.
Thabane has been cited in investigations after police chief Holomo Molibeli noted that a mobile number belonging to him was phoned from the site of his ex-wife’s murder.
Other government officials have also been linked to the murder, including the minister of water affairs and the government secretary.
“Government cannot be above [the] law,” Communications Minister Thesele Maseribane told reporters in Maseru.