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Lesotho Prime Minister Requests African Peacekeepers

  • VOA News

Army personnel man outside the military headquarters in Maseru, Lesotho, Aug. 31, 2014.

Army personnel man outside the military headquarters in Maseru, Lesotho, Aug. 31, 2014.

Lesotho's prime minister has asked for southern African peacekeepers to be sent to his country following an apparent coup attempt over the weekend.

An aide to Thomas Thabane said the prime minister made the request at emergency talks with officials from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in Pretoria on Monday.

The aide, Samonyane Ntsekele, told reporters that an "intervention" is needed.

Thabane fled Lesotho on Saturday before the military surrounded his residence and that of a top police official, and disarmed two police stations in the capital Maseru.

The prime minister accused the army and Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing of seeking to oust him from power.

The military accused elements of the police force of planning to arm political radicals ahead of an anti-government protest.

Deputy Prime Minister Metsing was present at the talks in Pretoria Monday, as SADC officials tried to broker a solution to the crisis. South African President Jacob Zuma is set to meet with both Metsing and Thabane.

Lesotho, a small, mountainous country encircled by South Africa, has gone through several coups since it won independence from Britain in 1966.

The U.S. has called for a "peaceful dialogue" and respect for the democratic process in the kingdom, while U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called for respect for the constitutional order.

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