Lesotho PM flees ‘military coup’

Thomas Thabane (file pic, 2007)Thomas Thabane said he would go back to Lesotho and would step aside if he loses the next election

The prime minister of the southern African kingdom of Lesotho has fled to South Africa, alleging a coup by the army and saying his life is in danger.

Speaking to the BBC, Thomas Thabane said he was in neighbouring South Africa and would return “as soon as I know I am not going to get killed.”

Reports from Lesotho say the capital, Maseru, is now calm after soldiers seized key buildings.

Lesotho has seen a series of military coups since independence in 1966.

Mr Thabane has headed a unity government since but suspended parliament in June amid feuding in his coalition.

Basuto Huts in Pitseng, Lesotho (file picture)Lesotho is a largely rural country dominated by mountains and surround on all sides by South Africa

‘Illegal coup’

“I have been removed from control not by the people but by the armed forces, and that is illegal,” Mr Thabane said.

“I came into South Africa this morning and I will return as soon as my life is not in danger.

“I will not go back to Lesotho to get killed.”

However, an army spokesman said the military “supports the democratically elected government of the day,” Reuters news agency reported.

Earlier, troops were seen on the streets of Maseru and there were reports of gunfire.

Radio stations were taken off air and phone lines were cut, although later reports suggested they were back working.

Sports Minister Thesele Maseribane told AFP news agency that troops had surrounded State House, a key government building.

Geographically, Lesotho is surrounded by South Africa on all sides.


Are you in Maseru or elsewhere in Lesotho? You can share your views and experiences by emailing [email protected]