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Lesotho ruling party gives PM resignation deadline

The supreme decision-making body of Thabane's All Basotho Convention (ABC) party met on Monday and agreed on a deadline for the 80-year-old Thabane to step down.

Lesotho PM Thomas Motsoahae Thabane (C) looks on during proceedings at the closing ceremony of the 37th Southern African Development Community (SADC) Summit of Heads of State and Government at The OR Tambo Building in Pretoria on 20 August, 2017. Picture: AFP

MASERU - Lesotho's ruling party gave its embattled prime minister an ultimatum to resign by Thursday after his wife was charged in connection with the murder of her rival.

Thomas Thabane's current wife Maesaiah Thabane, 42, appeared in court Tuesday over the murder of the prime minister's previous wife, who was gunned down two days before the premier was sworn into office in 2017.

The supreme decision-making body of Thabane's All Basotho Convention (ABC) party met on Monday and agreed on a deadline for the 80-year-old Thabane to step down.

"We... have decided that the PM should leave office by Thursday," Montoeli Masoetsa, the party spokesman said.

"We cannot afford to have him any longer in office and we think it's only for the best," he told AFP.

The party had last month urged the premier to resign, after police investigations linked his mobile number to communication records from the scene of the murder of his estranged wife.

Lilopelo Thabane, who was 58, was gunned down by unknown assailants on the outskirts of the capital Maseru in June 2017.

The prime minister promised to leave on grounds of advanced health, but did not give a timeline for his resignation.

"This is no longer about waiting for him to give us a date but it's the decision of the (party) that he should go by 20 February," said Masoetsa.

The prime minister was also questioned by police last month over his estranged wife's murder.

The long unresolved murder of the prime minister's previous wife has stunned the small southern African kingdom surrounded by South Africa.

Opposition parties in the country of 2.2 million people, also want Thabane gone.

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