Lesotho To Hold Elections Two Years Early After Attempted Coup

Lesotho has brought forward 2017 elections by two years to try to resolve political tensions in the southern African country after an attempted coup in August, South African Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Thursday.

National elections will now be held towards the end of February next year, Ramaphosa, who has been mediating between rival political factions, told a news conference in the capital.

The king of the mountainous kingdom, which is completely surrounded by Africa, will reconvene parliament on Oct. 17, Ramaphosa added.

Lesotho Prime Minister Thomas Thabane accused Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing of helping to plan a coup attempt by the army which forced him to briefly seek refuge in Africa. Metsing and the army denied the allegation.

Relations have been stormy between Thabane's All Basotho Convention party and Metsing's Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) group, which both formed a coalition with another party after elections in 2012.

Lesotho has undergone a number of military coups since independence from Britain in 1966. At least 58 locals and eight African soldiers died during a political stand-off and subsequent fighting in 1998.

Besides textile exports and a slice of regional customs receipts, Lesotho's other big earner is water piped to Africa, which makes it of strategic importance to Pretoria.

Tens of thousands of its citizens also work in Africa's mines as migrant workers and belong to the Union of Mineworkers, which Ramaphosa founded more than three decades ago during the struggle against apartheid.

This gives Africa's deputy president significant political influence in Lesotho.

Source: Reuters Africa
South Africa 2633403571690744850

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