Lesotho PM Thabane’s powers to be limited

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The king of Lesotho Letsie III assented to legislation preventing Prime Minister Thomas Thabane dissolving parliament and calling an election in the event of a vote of no confidence against him, the attorney general said.

Thabane (80) is under pressure to resign over a murder case in which he and his wife are suspected of killing his previous wife. Both deny the charges.

“The ninth amendment to the constitution is now law given His Majesty has assented to it. It’s effective, just awaiting printing,” Attorney General Haae Phoofolo told Reuters.

The law means in the event of a vote of no confidence against Thabane passing, he would have no choice but to leave office.

Thabane previously said he will leave at the end of July, but opponents say that is not soon enough.

In a statement on Thursday, Thabane reiterated he voluntarily decided to vacate office due to his age as he was no longer “energetic”.

“I have always been consistent it is my wish to retire from office by 31 July, or an  earlier date of 12 June, if all necessary conditions for my retirement are in place,” he said.

Thabane said the amendment was a significant step leading up to his retirement.

“Government and the political party I lead, will co-ordinate my retirement in a mature manner and to ensure the continued stability of Lesotho,” he said.

“It is my hope all preparations will be finalised as soon as possible and ahead of the deadline I set for myself.”

Thabane’s lawyers previously argued being prime minister should give him immunity from prosecution. It is unclear whether that was part of negotiations for his exit.