Lesotho’s Prime Minister Thomas Thabane resigned on May 19, three months after police named him and his current wife as major suspects in the murder of his former wife in a case that has shocked the southern African nation.
Thabane had formally handed in his resignation to King Letsie III, the top traditional leader of the mountainous kingdom.
Thabane’s disgraceful resignation marks the end of one of Lesotho’s longest political careers, one marked by exile, intrigue, tensions and a political crisis that deepened when police named him as a murder of his wife suspect in February.
“The time to retire from the great theatre of action, take leave from public life and office has finally arrived,” the 80-year-old Thabane announced in a speech on Lesotho TV.
All Basotho Convention (ABC) party, opposition figures and South African mediators who had arrived to find a way out of the crisis caused by the murder of Thabane’s wife had all been pressing the Prime-minister to resign over the police investigation, which casted shadow on his reputation incompatible with holding the office.
Gunmen shot dead his previous wife, Lipolelo, on June 14, 2017, two days before he took office. Thabane had filed for divorce from Lipolelo Thabane, when she was shot dead near her Maseru home. The attack occurred just two days before Thabane was sworn in for his second stint as Prime minister.
Prime minister wife, and incumbent First Lady, Maesaiah has been formally charged with the murder. Though named as a suspect, Thabane has not been charged. They both deny any involvement. At present Maesaiah, has already been charged and is out on bail. Thabane asked the Constitutional Court to stop the courts from trying him for the crime while he remained in office. His retirement means he could now stand trial.
Finance Minister Moeketsi Majoro, 58, is expected to replace him. Among his immediate tasks as Prime minister will be to pass the budget and revive the economy. Despite confirming only one coronavirus case, Lesotho has taken a big economic hit due to the global slowdown brought about by the pandemic.