Lesotho's prime minister to retire amid political crisis

Lesotho’s prime minister has broken his silence on the southern African nation's political crisis, saying he will soon retire

MASERU, Lesotho -- Lesotho’s prime minister broke his silence Friday on the southern African nation's political crisis, saying he will soon retire.

Addressing the media in the capital, Maseru, Thomas Thabane said that after decades of public service his stamina had worn down. He did not give a date for his retirement, and did not address the ongoing investigation into the murder of his ex-wife, for which police seek to question his current wife.

“I will let you know when all is in order for me to step down,” the 80-year-old leader said, noting that he has been a civil servant since before the tiny, mountainous nation’s independence from Britain in 1966. “I thank you all for entrusting me to lead this country and will forever be grateful.”

The prime minister has been under pressure from his ruling All Basotho Convention party, which has called for him to retire on July 31, saying he is no longer fit to lead.

Speaking to the media, Thabane’s deputy in the ruling party, Nqosa Mahao, said the retirement will entail a "process which involves the king and governing coalition partners.”

The killing of the prime minister’s ex-wife, Lipolelo Thabane, occurred two days before his inauguration for a second term in 2017, and two years after a court ruled that Lipolelo was the lawful first lady and entitled to benefits.

Police this week said they were searching for the country's first lady, Maesaiah Thabane, for questioning in the killing, while the police commissioner said the "noose" was tightening around the prime minister and those close to him.

Neither the prime minister nor his wife have commented publicly on the police remarks.