Lesotho Prime Minister Thomas Thabane will not be told when to leave office, a national newspaper reported, resisting efforts to defuse a political crisis with a “dignified retirement” offer.
Independent weekly Lesotho Times quoted Thabane as saying he would not be pushed out before he is ready, apparently rejecting a deal between South African mediators and his own coalition government that he would step down.
“People I don’t report to are setting the time for my departure. They have no right to do so,” it quoted him as saying.
Thabane (80) is under pressure to resign owing to a murder case in which he and his current wife are suspected of assassinating his previous wife. They both deny this.
Last Saturday Thabane ordered soldiers and armoured vehicles onto Maseru streets to restore order against what he called “rogue national elements”, prompting neighbour South Africa to step in and defuse tensions.
Mediators agreed with government that Thabane would go into “a dignified, graceful and secure retirement,” immediately.
Thabane’s spokesman, Relebohile Moyeye, declined to comment on Thursday on the prime minister’s plans.
Thabane previously said he will step down at the end of July. There are senior figures in his own party and the opposition who want him out immediately.
In the interview, the paper quoted him as saying he wanted to “ensure all plans we have in motion are implemented before I leave,” without details.
Pro and anti-Thabane factions in the ruling ABC party are in conflict over his future, aggravating political tensions.
“We still wish he could leave as soon as yesterday,” Montoeli Masoetsa, spokesman of Thabane’s ABC party, said.
Gunmen shot and killed Thabane’s previous wife, Lipolelo (58) on June 14, 2017, in a still unsolved case.
This year, police charged Thabane’s current wife, Maesaiah, with the murder, and named Thabane — who has yet to be formally charged — plunging Lesotho into the current crisis.