Political Crisis Looms in Lesotho as Ruling Party Splits

Lesotho, a tiny southern African nation plagued by years of political instability, appears headed for another crisis after a split in the ruling party and Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro’s firing of three ministers and a deputy.

Nqosa Mahao, the justice minister and deputy leader of the ruling All Basotho Convention, this week said he would break away to lead a new party called the Basotho Action Party. On Friday, Mojoro said the nation’s monarch, King Letsie III, accepted his recommendation that Mahao, the police minister, forestry minister and deputy health minister be removed from office with immediate effect.

Political Crisis Looms in Lesotho as Ruling Party Splits

Mahao said Majoro, who’s been in office since May last year, lacked the parliamentary majority needed to continue governing and doesn’t have the power to execute a cabinet reshuffle. Twenty lawmakers have agreed to join the BAP, which will be registered by the end of next week, he said.

A country of about 3 million people, Lesotho is an important source of fresh-water for South Africa, which encircles the mountain kingdom. Opposition riots in 1998 prompted South Africa to deploy troops to restore order, and in 2014 the Prime Minister Thomas Thabane temporarily fled the country after accusing the military of overthrowing him.

The BAP intends tabling a motion of no confidence in Majoro once the lawmakers have officially crossed over to its ranks. If Mahao does secure sufficient backing to topple the government, it would be the third change of administration in five years. The ABC currently holds 48 of the 120 seats in the National Assembly, and rules with the backing of smaller parties.

Majoro told his supporters who gathered at State House in Maseru, the capital, on Thursday that his party was still stable and the composition of the government will only change after next year’s elections.

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