Africa

Lesotho senate steps up pressure on premier to resign

Thomas Thabane, 80, is accused of murdering his estranged wife in 2017

Hassan Isilow   | 30.04.2020
Lesotho senate steps up pressure on premier to resign Prime Minister of Lesotho, Thomas Motsoahae Thabane

JOHANNESBURG 

The southern African nation of Lesotho’s senate has limited embattled Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s power to dissolve parliament and order new elections as his resignation looms. 

"Around 24 senators of the total 32 on Tuesday voted in support of the Ninth Amendment to the Constitution Bill 2019, " the senate said in a statement Wednesday.

Thabane, 80, has been under pressure to step down after he was accused of being involved in the murder of his estranged wife, 58-year-old Lipolelo Thabane, three years ago.

According to the statement, the bill proposes to give the prime minister only one option -- to resign from office.

It also proposes to enable parliament to play a more meaningful role in the dissolution of parliament, especially in circumstances where the prime minister wishes to advise the king of Lesotho to dissolve parliament or where a vote of no confidence is passed in the government.

This month, Thabane faced mounting criticism after deploying soldiers on the streets of Lesotho to reportedly restore calm after accusing unnamed law enforcement officials of seeking to undermine democracy.

A day prior to the deployment, the constitutional court ruled against his decision to suspend parliament.

Thabane has promised to resign in July due to old age, but his opponents -- including those within his own party -- want him to resign immediately.

South Africa, which completely surrounds the tiny kingdom, dispatched envoys last week to resolve the political impasse between the prime minister and his rivals. It was agreed that Thabane should resign and will be granted a dignified exit.

Earlier this year, Maesaiah Thabane, 42, the prime minister’s current wife, was formally charged with Lipolelo Thabane’s murder.

Thabane and Lipolelo separated in 2012 and their divorce proceedings were ongoing when she was killed.

She was shot dead near her home in the capital Maseru in June 2017, just two days before Thabane’s inauguration as prime minister.

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