Lesotho power vacuum after apparent coup attempt causes PM and deputy to flee

King Letsie III is appointing a cabinet minister to run the country

Police were off the streets and out of uniform in the Lesotho capital Maseru today after an apparent coup attempt by the army caused the Prime Minister to flee the country.

King Letsie III is appointing a cabinet minister to run the country as both the prime minister and deputy prime minister are in neighbouring South Africa, foreign affairs minister Mohlabi Kenneth Tsekoa said. It was not immediately clear who was named to run the nation of about two million that is completely surrounded by South Africa.

The military say they disarmed police in the capital, Maseru, on Saturday. Prime minister Thomas Thabane called the actions a coup attempt but Lesotho defence forces said they merely stepped in after getting information that police were planning to supply arms to participants in a demonstration.

There was little evidence of the conflict today in Maseru, but police at one of the attacked stations were walking in and out of the building in civilian clothes, not in uniform.

Experts expressed concern over who is running the country.

"Personally I don't know who's leading the country now that the leaders are outside the country. So you could say that there is probably a vacuum," said Motlamelle Kapa, head of political studies at the University of Lesotho.

Residents said they are worried about their businesses and the future.

"I am a businessman, I am working with guys from overseas, so now it is not easy for them to come here and invest. All the projects that I'm doing now they might not go on," said Hatahata Majora, who is self-employed.

Lesotho, though a poor country, is known for manufacturing clothes, its hydropower projects and the provision of water to South Africa.

Mr Thabane said he fled to South Africa in fear for his life and to consult with regional leaders there. Deputy prime minister Mothetjoa Metsing was put in charge, according to provisions in the constitution, but he is now in South Africa to attend the talks.

President Jacob Zuma is today meeting Mr Thabane and Mr Metsing, according to the Nelson Kgwete a spokesman for South Africa's Department of International Relations.

Political tensions have been high between Mr Thabane and Mr Metsing and within the coalition government in the tiny kingdom since June when Mr Thabane suspended parliament to dodge a vote of no confidence. Mr Thabane's All Basotho Convention party and Mr Metsing's Lesotho Congress for Democracy formed a coalition with Thesele Maseribane's Basotho National Party after 2012 elections. Conflict has since simmered.

Lesotho has seen a number of military coups since gaining independence from Britain in 1966.

PA

Arts and Entertainment
Banksy's 'The Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' in Bristol
art'Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' followed hoax reports artist had been arrested and unveiled
News
Pistorius leaves Pretoria High Court to be taken to prison
news

Voices
Stephanie first after her public appearance as a woman at Rad Fest 2014
voices

Life and Style
tech

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
James Blunt's debut album Back to Bedlam shot him to fame in 2004
music

Singer says the track was 'force-fed down people's throats'

News
news

Endangered species spotted in a creek in the Qinling mountains

Life and Style
tech

Company says data is only collected under 'temporary' identities that are discarded every 15 minutes

News
peopleJust weeks after he created dress for Alamuddin-Clooney wedding
Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010
films

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

Sport
football West Brom vs Man Utd match report: Blind grabs point, but away form a problem for Van Gaal
Life and Style
health

Some experiencing postnatal depression don't realise there is a problem. What can be done?

Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
News
i100
Sport
Adel Taraabt in action for QPR against West Ham earlier this month
footballQPR boss says midfielder is 'not fit to play football'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Science Teacher

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Science Teacher - Maternit...

Systems and Network Administrator

Negotiable: Randstad Education Leicester: We are recruiting for a Systems and ...

English Teacher

£120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Group: English as an Additional Langua...

Nursery assistants required in Cambridgeshire

£10000 - £15000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Nursery assistants re...

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album