The Prime Minister of Lesotho Thomas Thabane has formally resigned more than a week after his coalition government fell apart. His resignation is seen as one that could help end a long-running political crisis in the country.
In a televised address on Tuesday, Thabane said: “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. The time to take leave from public life and office has finally arrived. I plead with the entire nation and leadership to give my successor utmost support. On my part I wish to assure him of my support at all material times”.
For several weeks now, Thabane had said he would resign without providing any specific date. However, he formally handed in his resignation to King Letsie III, the top traditional leader Lesotho.
Thabane has facing mounting pressure to step down over a case in which he and his current wife are suspected of involvement in the 2017 murder of his previous, estranged wife. They both deny this.
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.
The murder mystery of Lipolelo Thabane
The June 14, 2017 murder of Lipolelo Thabane, Thomas Thabane’s estranged wife remain a mystery. Thabane had filed for divorce from Lipolelo Thabane and shortly after, 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.
His current wife, 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.
Despite his requests to regional Southern African Development Community mediators, Thabane leaves without any guarantees from immunity from prosecution for the 2017 murder.