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

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
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

Recruitment Genius: SAGE Bookkeeper & PA to Directors

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Executive

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An On-line Sales & Customer Ser...

Recruitment Genius: Accounts Assistant - Fixed Term Contract - 6 Months

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the largest hospitality companies...

Recruitment Genius: Electricians - Fixed Wire Testing

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As a result of significant cont...

Day In a Page

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map