Lesotho Prime Minister Thomas Thabane will be charged with the murder of his late wife, the deputy police commissioner said in the latest twist of a love triangle murder case stunning the southern African highland kingdom.
The 80-year-old Thabane took to radio to announce he would step down at the end of July, but did not mention the case.
He instead cited age as a reason for quitting as premier of the tiny, mountainous territory encircled by South Africa with a long history of political instability.
Thabane has been under mounting pressure over the death of former first lady Lipolelo, shot dead in June 2017 near her home in Maseru two days before he took office.
The prime minister’s current wife, Maesaiah Thabane, was detained and charged with ordering the murder. She is currently on bail.
“The prime minister is going to be charged with murder. The police are preparing directives and he will probably be charged tomorrow,” Deputy Commissioner of Police Paseka Mokete told Reuters.
Both she and Thomas, who married two months after Lipolelo’s death, have denied involvement in her death.
His spokesman Relebohile Moyeye said he could not comment because he had not seen the police charges.
Police say Maesaiah (42) hired eight assassins to kill the former first lady but was not present at the shooting.
Lipolelo, then 58, and Thabane were going through an acrimonious divorce at the time. An unknown assailant shot her dead in her car.
The prime minister’s resignation comes days after his party’s executive council called for him to step down immediately.
“I have served my country diligently,” Thabane said on state radio.
“I’ve worked for a peaceful and stable Lesotho. Today at my age, I have lost most of my energy. I hereby retire as prime minister with effect from the end of July.”
Thabane is set to appear in court on the murder charges, the deputy commissioner said, adding the charge sheet was prepared but Thabane’s lawyers requested an extra day.
“I think it’s high time he goes. I don’t know why it’s taking so long. He has to go for the sake of the nation,” Malineo Stoffels, a 30-year-old businesswoman said after listening to the announcement on a taxi radio .
“Everyone is talking about us (Lesotho), the economy has gone down,” she said. “It has to end”.