16 - 06
An unidentified assailant has killed the estranged wife of Lesotho’s Prime Minister-designate Tom Thabane, two days before the PM is to be sworn in.
Mrs. Lipolelo Thabane was driving home with a friend in the town of Ha Masana, located some 35km from Maseru, Lesotho’s capital, when the gunman fired at them. Mrs. Thabane died on the spot, while her unnamed friend was taken to the hospital in critical condition.
Police have launched investigations into the attack.
The inauguration of Tom Thabane as the PM is scheduled for Friday, and the murder of his wife on Wednesday has sparked concerns over the return of political instability in the country, which has suffered military coups and witnessed assassination attempts against prominent individuals.
Mrs. Thabane’s killing also raises fears over the safety of PM-designate Tom Thabane, who is currently being protected by a private security detail, having refused the army protection entitled to him as PM-designate.
His reluctance to receive army protection comes from very recent experiences, starting from 2014, when he was in his third year as PM (he has previously held the post).
In that year, he attempted to sack Lt. Gen. Tlali Kamoli from his post as the head of the army. Before he could announce his decision, soldiers ran riot in Maseru, with telecoms systems taken offline. Thabane’s house was besieged by LDF soldiers, but luckily, South African soldiers had whisked him away hours earlier.
Negotiations by the SADC allowed elections to be held the following year, and facilitate his return to Lesotho, where Lt. Gen. Kamoli had been removed from the post in favor of Gen. Maaparankoe Mahao, whom Thabane had intended to appoint.
However, Thabane lost the 2015 elections, and the incoming PM returned Lt. Gen. Kamoli to his post. Once again, Thabane fled.
It was in 2015 that Gen. Mahao was killed, shot by LDF soldiers in front of his and then taken to the barracks while still bleeding. He was confirmed dead a while later.
PM-designate Tom Thabane only returned to Lesotho early this year.