Lesotho Prime Minister Thomas Thabane has called on the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to help restore law and order in the country following an alleged attempted coup by the military on Saturday.
In an interview with VOA, Thabane said he fled to neighboring South Africa to protect his family after he received intelligence that he was being targeted for assassination by the military. He says the country remains tense after gun shots were heard in the capital, Maseru, when military police surrounded government buildings.
“The situation involves total indiscipline in the army led by the commander himself,” said Prime Minister Thabane. “It was government’s decision to release him from his command after many years in charge and that of course was done within the constitution," said the prime minister. "I also had intelligence information that he also has some political backing from some of my colleagues.”
“The army is getting out of order, running around the streets, threatening people, and the army quite openly stating that they want my neck. I got information early and I got out of the way so I’m still alive,” he said.
The prime minister says his fight to root out corruption in government led to the attempt to overthrow his administration.
Analysts say political tension has been simmering, following sharp disagreements within the coalition government after Mr. Thabane suspended parliament, apparently to avoid a vote of no confidence.
But, Prime Minister Thabane said corruption charges against a prominent member of the government, who he says is seen as a hero, led to the attempt on his life.
“Some charges are being leveled criminally against a prominent member of the government and I am not going to say who at this moment… they think should be protected from prosecution,” said Thabane.
He said, as a signatory to all anti-corruption conventions, Lesotho has to ensure graft is rooted out from the government.
“In my period of stewardship of this government, one of the key issues that I am going to deal with, because that is what the world wants us to do as leaders, is stamp out corruption in my country. And if that is going to cost me being chased around, then I call upon the world to say no, no, no, I am doing what the world wants me to do,” said Prime Minister Thabane.
He says he has alerted leaders to help stabilize the country and restore law and order.
“We are an organized region and we have structures within SADC that we use to deal with this kind of situation. I have passed the matter on to SADC resolution and I am sure that, in due course, the SADC resolution will triumph and there would be normality in the country,” said Thabane.