Lesotho’s new prime minister took office on Friday as part of a coalition government, three years after he was targeted by a coup and two days after the murder of his estranged wife.
Thomas Thabane’s All Basotho Convention party won snap elections on June 3 but failed to get an outright majority, leading it to negotiate joint rule with the Alliance of Democrats, the Basotho National Party, and the Reformed Congress of Lesotho.
Thabane’s new coalition government comes into office with the hope of ending the political uncertainty of party splits and fragile coalitions that have long dogged the mountain kingdom.
He said it was disturbing that Lesotho was increasingly becoming notorious for its failed governments and that it was time for change.
“I sincerely hope that political reforms will bring stability in Lesotho and ensure that Lesotho governments last for a normal five-year term,” he said in his inaugural speech.
The new alliance replaces the government of Pakalitha Mosisili, who led a seven-party coalition plagued by infighting and corruption.
Mosisili’s government was toppled in March and elections were triggered after he lost a vote of no confidence called by opposition parties.
At the inauguration ceremony, held inside a stadium in the capital Maseru, Thabane thanked his predecessor “for facilitating the smooth transfer of power” and said the two would “remain friends for ever”.
Thabane, 78, previously served as premier of Lesotho after the 2012 elections but was forced to flee to South Africa following an attempted military coup two years later.
In his speech, Thabane commented for the first time on the killing of his estranged wife. Lipolelo Thabane, 58, was shot on Wednesday night in a village near Maseru.
“I am mourning her death and (the) senseless killing of people like this … is one of many challenges that I am faced with as a new prime minister,” he said.
The killing of Lipolelo just two days before her husband took office created a sense of unease in the tiny country of two million people which is completely surrounded by South Africa.
Police spokesperson Clifford Molefe said on Thursday that the motive of the shooting was unknown and that investigations were ongoing.