“Dignified retirement” for Lesotho PM

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Lesotho’s government agreed with South African mediators and political parties to implement a “dignified retirement” for Prime Minister Thomas Thabane, a joint statement said, signalling stepped up efforts to end a political crisis.

Thabane was under pressure to resign owing to a murder case in which he and his current wife are suspected of involvement in the assassination of his previous wife, charges which both deny.

“The coalition government of the Kingdom of Lesotho commits to effecting the implementation process or modalities for the dignified, graceful and secure retirement of the right honourable Prime Minister,” a joint statement said.

Thabane pledged to step down at the end of July, but South African mediator Jeff Radebe told journalists in Maseru “the timeline is immediate,” for him leaving office.

Neither Thabane nor his spokespeople were immediately available for comment on whether or when he plans to quit.

South African diplomats stepped in to calm tensions on Sunday, a day after Thabane sent soldiers and armoured vehicles onto Maseru streets to restore order against “rogue national elements”.

Small and with a population of just over two million, Lesotho’s political upheavals often draw in neighbour South Africa, for which the kingdom’s mountains are an essential source of water.