Lesotho's embattled PM Thabane deploys army to streets

By Marafaele Mohloboli MASERU, Lesotho (Reuters) - Lesotho's prime minister Thomas Thabane unexpectedly deployed the army in the capital Maseru on Saturday against unnamed 'rogue national elements' he said wanted to destabilise the southern African country. 'I have since deployed the army to take necessary measures against all rogue national elements who seem to be on a campaign to destabilise the country and its democracy, and (to) restore order with immediate effect,' Thabane said in a television address broadcast live. A Reuters witness saw armoured vehicles and groups of heavily-armed soldiers with riot gear patrolling in the city centre, but the soldiers seemed to have returned to barracks later

Reuters April 19, 2020 00:12:46 IST
Lesotho's embattled PM Thabane deploys army to streets

Lesothos embattled PM Thabane deploys army to streets

By Marafaele Mohloboli

MASERU, Lesotho (Reuters) - Lesotho's prime minister Thomas Thabane unexpectedly deployed the army in the capital Maseru on Saturday against unnamed "rogue national elements" he said wanted to destabilise the southern African country.

"I have since deployed the army to take necessary measures against all rogue national elements who seem to be on a campaign to destabilise the country and its democracy, and (to) restore order with immediate effect," Thabane said in a television address broadcast live.

A Reuters witness saw armoured vehicles and groups of heavily-armed soldiers with riot gear patrolling in the city centre, but the soldiers seemed to have returned to barracks later.

Lesotho, which is completely surrounded by South Africa, has experienced several coups since gaining independence from Britain in 1966.

Thabane, 80, is facing strife in both his personal and political life. He is accused with his current wife Maesaiah of being involved in the murder of his former wife Lipolelo, who was shot dead in June 2017. Thabane and Maesaiah have denied the charges.

Thabane is also facing a potential no-confidence vote from opposition parties in parliament, which he suspended in March, and has seen Lesotho's ruling All Basotho Convention (ABC) party calling in February for him to step down as prime minister.

On Friday, the mountain kingdom's Constitutional Court said Thabane's decision to prorogue parliament ostensibly over coronavirus fears was "irrational".

"The prime minister executed his powers in an arbitrary and irrational manner ... It is ordered that the prorogation proclaimed by the prime minister is reviewed, corrected and set aside," Justice Sakoane Sakoane said.

Lesotho is one of the few countries in the world that has not yet reported a single confirmed case of COVID-19 , the respiratory disease that has infected more than 2 million people since emerging in China in December.

On Friday, diplomatic representatives to Lesotho from the European Union, United States, South Africa and the UK called for a united approach against COVID-19 .

"It is critical that first line responders and key workers be allowed to carry out their duties, according to the law, without interference or obstruction," they said in a joint statement.

"Destabilising actions could be catastrophic," they added.

(Writing by Wendell Roelf; Editing by Christina Fincher)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

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