/ 3 September 2014

Thabane arrives safely in Lesotho, says aide

An aide to Lesotho's prime minister
An aide to Lesotho's prime minister

Lesotho’s embattled prime minister Thomas Thabane, who fled to South Africa after an apparent bid to oust him at the weekend, returned safely to his home country on Wednesday, an aide said.

Thabane “has crossed into the country,” his advisor Samonyane Ntsekele told Agence France-Presse, speaking on the phone from the premier’s official residence. “He got in safely.” 

This follows a failed attempt to return to Lesotho on Monday evening in the wake of reports that tensions had escalated overnight in the capital Maseru. The aide to Thabane told AFP that the 75-year-old prime minister was unlikely to return to the country on Tuesday as planned, after regional mediators brokered a road map to ease the country’s political crisis. 

Solution to crisis
Troops attacked key police stations and surrounded Thabane’s official residence over the weekend before he fled across the border. He met President Jacob Zuma and other Southern African Development Community (SADC) members to discuss a solution to the crisis.

Thabane requested SADC send troops into the country, saying the situation was “out of hand”.

It is expected that Thabane will face a vote of confidence when Parliament returns – one he will likely lose – but his biggest challenge in the short-term will be to end doubts about who controls the army. 

Intelligence sources have claimed that Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli, commander of the Lesotho defence forces, orchestrated the coup when ordered by Thabane to relinquish his command. 

The commander was to be replaced by Lieutenant General Maaparankoe Mahao, who fled the country on Saturday after a pre-dawn assassination attempt. His home was sprayed with bullets, forcing his wife and three young sons to hide, terrified for their lives during the 30-minute ordeal. – AFP, staff reporter