Time running out for Lesotho’s Thabane

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Lesotho lawmakers and South African mediators said legislation awaiting aprroval of the king will see Prime Minister Tom Thabane, suspected of killing his ex-wife, leave office soo, ending a crisis in the mountain kingdom.

Thabane (80) is under pressure to resign over a murder case in which he and his current wife are suspected of assassinating his previous wife. The case divided his party and triggered sporadic unrest. Both deny the charges.

“We are satisfied when the king assents to this bill, it will pave the way for the prime minister to indicate his intention to vacate the office,” South African envoy Jeff Radebe told journalists.

Thabane’s spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Thabane was quoted last week as saying he will not be hurried out, despite pressure from his own All Besotho Convention Party, its coalition partners, opposition and neighbour, South Africa.

Political instability frequently boils over in Lesotho, which experienced several coups since independence from Britain in 1966. Conflicts often draw in South Africa, whose central mountains encircle it.

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

Last Tuesday, the Senate passed a bill preventing Thabane from dissolving parliament and calling fresh elections in the event of a no confidence vote against him, meaning should such a vote pass he has no choice but to leave.

“Now the amendment has been passed, we are waiting for it to be passed to His Majesty for assent and there will be preparations for the PM to leave in a decent, dignified manner,” ABC Secretary Lebohang Hlaele told Reuters.

Deputy leader of the opposition Democratic Congress, Motlalentoa Letsosa, is preparing a vote of no confidence that could go to parliament as early as next week if the king signs off on the amendment.

Independent political analyst Lefu Thaela said Thabane would lose the vote, and have a choice between stepping down and “going the dictatorship route” of digging in and hoping the military supports him.

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 – though he has yet to be charged in court.