News April 21, 2020 at 08:00 am

Scandal-hit Lesotho prime minister gets ‘dignified’ exit despite murder charges

Mohammed Awal April 21, 2020 at 08:00 am

April 21, 2020 at 08:00 am | News

FILE PHOTO: Lesotho's Prime Minister Thomas Thabane attends the 37th Ordinary SADC Summit of Heads of State and Government in Pretoria, South Africa, August 19, 2017. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko/File Photo

Lesotho’s scandal-hit prime minister, Thomas Thabane, is expected to immediately abdicate his post after the country’s government agreed to let go of him. Thabane has been promised a “dignified and secure” exit, according to a BBC report.

It follows the intervention of South African mediators. But it is unclear if Thabane will stand down immediately, per the deal. He has been under pressure to resign since 2017 following suspicions that he was complicit in the murder of his estranged wife.

Thabane was charged with the murder in February this year, alongside his current wife. But they both denied involvement.

 He had already served notice in January that he would step down.  “Mr. Thabane has already made known his decision to resign to the cabinet…,” a spokesperson for the ruling party All Basotho Convention (ABC), Montoeli Masoetsa, told the AFP news agency then.

Court documents had 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. 

During the January presser to announce 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.” 

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 was 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.

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