Lesotho’s coalition government on Monday called for Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s resignation, according to a joint statement, reported Reuters.
The 80-year-old Thabane has been under pressure to resign after he was accused of being involved in the murder of his estranged wife, 58-year-old Lipolelo Thabane.
Thabane and Lipolelo got separated in 2012 and their divorce proceedings were ongoing when she was shot dead near her home in the capital Maseru in June 2017. The murder took place just two days before Thabane’s inauguration as prime minister.
His current wife, Maesaiah Thabane, 43, whom he married two months after Lipolelo’s death, has also been charged in the murder case. Thabane and his wife Maesaiah both deny having any involvement in the murder.
Thabane’s decision to deploy soldiers and armored vehicles onto the streets of Maseru to restore order last week also faced mounting criticism.
A day prior to the deployment, the constitutional court also ruled against his decision to suspend parliament. The decision came soon after the national assembly passed a bill that barred Thabane from announcing fresh elections in the country if he loses a no-confidence vote.
The turmoil prompted South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa to send a delegation to Lesotho to help resolve the impasse between the prime minister and those opposing him.
“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 Honorable Prime Minister,” said a joint statement signed on behalf of the government of Lesotho and South African mediators.
Although the statement did not clarify whether the prime minister would be cleared of the murder charges, the coalition government’s decision to grant him a dignified retirement seems to suggest so.
Thabane had pledged to step down at the end of July because of his age, but the opposition demands his immediate departure.