Lesotho PM resigns amid ex-wife’s murder case
Thomas Thabane has formally stepped down as prime minister of Lesotho following months of pressure after he was named as a suspect in the murder of his ex-wife.
The 80-year-old’s current wife, with whom he was living at the time of the murder, was charged in connection with the killing in February.
The pair have denied any involvement.
Finance Minister Moeketsi Majoro is expected to be sworn in as Mr Thabane’s replacement.
“The time to retire from the great theatre of action, take leave from public life and office has finally arrived,” Mr Thabane said on national television on Tuesday announcing his resignation.
He said he was stepping down because of his age, adding: “I am no longer as energetic as I used to be.”
He made no reference to the murder case but thanked his wife and “entire family for their unwavering support to me as prime minister”.
He also made reference to the fractious nature of politics in the country, saying that some had tried to take advantage when he announced, in January, that he would be stepping down.
Lesotho has been plagued by political instability this year – he lost his majority in parliament last week when the coalition backing him fell apart and a new government is expected to be installed on Friday.
Gunmen shot and killed Lipolelo Thabane on June 14, 2017 – two days before Mr Thabane was sworn in as prime minister.
While returning home, she was ambushed, shot several times at close range and died on the side of a dirt road. She was 58.
At the time, Lipolelo was going through a bitter divorce with Mr Thabane and had been living apart from her husband since 2012.
He had moved in with a new woman, Maesaiah Thabane, sometime between 2012 and 2017.
Mr Thabane appeared in court in February for acting in “common purpose” but he hasn’t been formally charged yet.
Mr Thabane, 80, is one of Africa’s oldest leaders and has spent most of his working life as a politician.
No stranger to political rivalry, Mr Thabane once fled to South Africa, alleging a coup plot by the military and had to be escorted back to Lesotho by the police.
In the February court case, his lawyer argued that his position as prime minister granted him immunity from prosecution. -BBC