Lesotho’s PM Thabane appears in court to hear murder charges

ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA - JANUARY 26 : Prime Minister of Lesotho, Thomas Motsoahae Thabane arrives to attend the 30th African Union Summit at Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on January 26, 2018. (Photo by Minasse Wondimu Hailu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Lesotho’s Prime Minister Thomas Thabane appeared in court on Monday to hear charges of murdering his estranged wife, a Reuters witness saw.

A local journalist tweeted a picture of the couple in court.



Thabane, 80, is suspected of involvement in the murder of his then wife Lipolelo, who was shot dead in June 2017, two days before he took office for a second stint as premier — and two months before he married his current wife Maesaiah.

Lesotho’s first lady, Maesaiah Thabane

Maesaiah Thabane, 42, has also been charged with the murder, and police suspect her of ordering assassins to do the job. Both deny any involvement.

Thabane had initially been scheduled to hear the charges on Friday but left to South Africa, which surrounds this mountainous kingdom on all sides, for what aides said was a medical appointment.

He has said he will resign at the end of July, and several members of his own All Basotho Convention (ABC) party have been pressuring him to go sooner to avert a political crisis.

Lesotho, a tiny mountain territory of 2 million people, has a history of coups and political instability. Many fear a power vacuum unless the ABC can agree on a successor, and analysts expect a general election will have to be called soon.