Lesotho: The army withdraws as Thabane’s call for resignation

Lesotho troops deployed by Prime Minister Thomas Thabane amid a showdown with opponents demanding the octogenarian leader resign withdrew from the capital’s streets on Sunday.

Thabane faces mounting calls to step down from rivals within his ruling party and opposition groups over suspicions he had a hand in the murder of his estranged wife in 2017.

Thabane had deployed them the day before to “restore order” while accusing unnamed law enforcement agencies of undermining democracy. The army spokesman was not immediately available for comment.

Diplomatic moves to calm the situation were meanwhile gathering pace. A South African envoy has arrived in Lesotho, Thabane’s senior private secretary Thabo Thakalekoala told AFP on Sunday.

He did not elaborate but many in Maseru suspect President Cyril Ramaphosa had dispatched the envoy to the tiny kingdom surrounded by South Africa in a bid to facilitate talks between Thabane and his opponents.

US, British and European Union (EU) ambassadors and commissioners, leaders called on Maseru to remember “the importance of maintaining stability and the rule of law”.