1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Lesotho PM steps down over ex-wife murder probe

May 19, 2020

The resignation follows a months-long political crisis in the kingdom. Instability shook the country after Thabane was accused of being complicit in his ex-wife's murder late last year.

Lesotho's Prime Minister Thomas Motsoahae Thabane arrives to address the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly at the U.N. headquarters in New York, U.S., September 28, 2018.
Image: Reuters/E. Munoz

Lesotho's Prime Minister, Thomas Thabane, resigned on Tuesday following a months-long crisis in the southern African kingdom, after he was accused of being complicit in his ex-wife’s murder.

"I come before you today to announce that the work that you assigned me may not be over, but the time to retire from the great theatre of action, take leave from public life and office has finally arrived," Thabane said in a televised speech.

"I plead with the entire nation and leadership to give my successor utmost support and on my part I wish to assure him of my support at all material times," he said.

Thabane's successor, Dr. Moeketsi Majoro, is expected to be sworn in at the Royal Palace on Tuesday.

Read more: Lesotho: PM Thabane to step down after alleged link to wife's murder

The country has been rife with instability since late last year, when Thabane was accused of taking part in the killing of his estranged wife in June 2017.

The case divided Thabane's All Basotho Convention (ABC) party, and has triggered sporadic protests over the past few months.

Thabane, 80, and his then-wife Lipolelo Thabane, 58, were going through a bitter divorce when she was shot dead outside of her home, two days before her husband’s second inauguration as prime minister.

Police later found Thabane's cell phone number in communications records from the crime scene. 

Thabane, 80, has denied any involvement in the murder but has been under mounting pressure to resign. He appeared in court in February, but was not charged.

However, his current wife, Maesaiah, has been charged with murder and attempted murder, and is currently out on bail. Police earlier said that at the time of his court appearance, the couple would be charged together because they had a common purpose.

Landlocked Lesotho has a population of just over 2 million people, and is encircled by South Africa on all sides. The country operates as a constitutional monarchy, with King Letsie III ruling as the head of state.

lc/aw (dpa, Reuters, AFP)

Lesotho PM faces murder charge

DW sends out a daily selection of the day's news and features. Sign up here