Lesotho's prime minister has lost a no-confidence vote in parliament, deepening the political uncertainty in the mountain kingdom ahead of a snap election likely within three months.
The vote on Wednesday against Pakalitha Mosisili, head of a coalition government, came two years after his Democratic Congress (DC) ousted former prime minister Thomas Thabane's All Basotho Congress (ABC) by uniting with smaller parties.
Now it is Thabane's ABC that leads a coalition of opposition parties, including the Alliance of Democrats (AD) party, a group that split from DC last year, in an effort to remove Mosisili.
Members of parliament voted in favour of replacing Mosisili with AD's Monyane Moleleki.
"The vote of no confidence motion to urge His Majesty King Letsie III to appoint Honourable Monyane Moleleki as the next prime minister has been carried," Speaker Ntlhoi Motsamai told MPs after the vote.
Mosisili now has three days to either resign in favour of Moleleki or advise the king to call elections, which would be held within three months.
But Fako Likoti, Mosisili's political adviser, said the premier would not step aside.
"He will continue to be the prime minister until we go for elections," Likoti told People's Choice FM radio.
Lesotho's last two elections have not produced a winner with a clear majority.
Completely landlocked by South Africa, Lesotho is one of the world's poorest countries and its economy is heavily dependent on its neighbour, to where it exports water and hydroelectric power.
South Africa and the Southern African Development Community bloc have repeatedly called for peace and political reform in the country.
A constitutional monarchy, Lesotho was a British protectorate known as Basutoland before independence in 1966.
The country of two million people has been hit by several coups since the independence.
Source: News agencies