MASERU. — Lesotho’s ruling party gave its embattled prime minister an ultimatum to resign by today after his wife was charged in connection with the murder of her rival.
Thomas Thabane’s current wife Maesaiah Thabane (42), appeared in court on Tuesday over the murder of the prime minister’s previous wife, who was gunned down two days before the premier was sworn into office in 2017.
Maesaiah will stand trial on March 17. Police allege she hired eight assassins to kill her but was not present at the shooting.
Maesaiah, who has denied any involvement in the killing but cannot enter a plea until her trial starts, appeared briefly in court before being driven to Lesotho’s plush state house, where a few dozen supporters wearing the red, yellow and green of her husband’s ABC party greeted her.
Wearing a zebra-print dress with gold trim, a gold-coloured neckerchief and a black felt boater hat, she chuckled as they sang: “jealousy is of the soul of the hater,” in the local Soto language, voicing their belief that she is the victim of a plot by political rivals.
The supreme decision-making body of Thabane’s All Basotho Convention (ABC) party met on Monday and agreed on a deadline for the 80-year-old Thabane to step down.
“We . . . have decided that the PM should leave office by Thursday,” Montoeli Masoetsa, the party spokesperson said.
“We cannot afford to have him any longer in office and we think it is only for the best,” he told AFP.
The party had last month urged the premier to resign, after police investigations linked his mobile number to communication records from the scene of the murder of his estranged wife.
Lilopelo Thabane, who was 58, was gunned down by unknown assailants on the outskirts of the capital Maseru in June 2017.
“This is no longer about waiting for him to give us a date, but it is the decision of the (party) that he should go by 20 February,” said Masoetsa.
The prime minister was also questioned by police last month over his estranged wife’s murder.
The long unresolved murder of the prime minister’s previous wife has stunned the small southern African kingdom surrounded by South Africa. — AFP/Reuters.