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50. Lesotho (1966-present)

Crisis Phase (October 4, 1966-April 2, 1993):  The British protectorate of Basutoland formally achieved its independence from the United Kingdom on October 4, 1966.  The Kingdom of Lesotho became a member of the Commonwealth of Nations (CON), a member of the United Nations (UN) on October 18, 1966, and a member of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) on November 8, 1966.  King Moshoeshoe II was the constitutional monarch at the time of Lesotho’s independence, but he sought more political power.  Prime Minister Leabua Jonathan of the Basotho National Party (BNP) warned King Moshoeshoe II to stay out of politics or to abdicate.  Supporters of King Moshoeshoe II clashed with government police in Thaba Busiu (Thaba Bosigo) on December 27, 1966, resulting in the deaths of nine individuals.  Prime Minister Leabua Jonathan placed King Moshoeshoe II under house arrest in Maseru on December 28, 1966.  Supporters of King Moshoeshoe II attacked a police station in Leribe on January 3, 1967, resulting in the death of one individual.  On January 5, 1967, King Moshoeshoe II gave up his attempt to exercise wider political powers and agreed to abide by the constitution.  Parliamentary elections were held on January 27, 1970, and the Basotho Congress Party (BCP) won 36 out of 60 seats in the National Assembly.  The BNP won 23 seats in the National Assembly.

Prime Minister Leabua Jonathan, leader of the BNP, nullified the results of the parliamentary elections and declared a state-of-emergency on January 30, 1970.  Prime Minister Leabua Jonathan dissolved the parliament, suspended the constitution, and stripped King Moshoeshoe II of political authority.  The government arrested and jailed Ntsu Mokhehle, leader of the BCP, and place Tsepo Mohaleroe, leader of the royalist Marematlou Freedom Party (MFP), under house arrest.  On February 1, 1970, government policemen arrested and jailed at least 30 members of the BCP, including 16 members of the BCP executive committee.  Members of the BCP appealed to United Nations Secretary-General U Thant for assistance in stopping the “illegal and unconstitutional coup d’etat.”  The British government imposed diplomatic sanctions (diplomatic non-recognition) against the government on February 3, 1970.  On February 6, 1970, Prime Minister John Vorster of South Africa expressed support for the government of Prime Minister Leabua Jonathan.  Prime Minister Leabua Jonathan issued a decree (Lesotho Order No. 1 of 1970) establishing a provisional constitution on February 10, 1970.  Clement Leepa, an opposition leader, was killed by government police on March 3, 1970.  Two government policemen and seven armed individuals were killed during clashes in the Quithing district on March 9-10, 1970.  Four government policemen and ten civilians were killed during clashes in the Mafeteng district on March 27-28, 1970.  King Moshoeshoe II went into exile to the Netherlands on March 31, 1970.  Some 30 individuals were killed in civil violence between January 30 and March 31, 1970.  On April 1, 1970, the British government imposed sanctions (suspension of economic assistance) against the government of Lesotho.  Some 20 individuals were killed during clashes with police in the Eastern Mokhotlong district on April 4, 1970.  Some 150 individuals were killed in civil violence near Maseru on April 7-8, 1970.  The British government lifted diplomatic sanctions against the government on June 11, 1970 and lifted economic sanctions against the government on July 20, 1970.  King Moshoeshoe II returned from exile on December 4, 1971, and he was sworn in as the ceremonial head-of-state on December 6, 1971.  On March 12, 1973, Prime Minister Leabua Jonathan announced the establishment of a 93-member National Assembly.  The National Assembly convened on April 17, 1973.  Prime Minister Leabua Jonathan lifted the state-of-emergency on July 24, 1973.  Government police arrested 20 members of the BCP on January 6, 1974.  Supporters of the BCP attacked government police stations in Mapoteng, Peka, Monotsa, and Kolonyama on January 7, 1974, resulting in the death of one BCP supporter.  Members of the BNP killed 25 supporters of the BCP on January 8-9, 1974.  Ntsu Mokhehle, leader of the BCP, fled into exile to Botswana and, eventually, South Africa.  The Lesotho Liberation Army (LLA), the armed wing of the BCP, was established by Ntsu Mokhehle in 1974.  The government of Libya provided military assistance (training) to the LLA.  On July 9, 1975, the Lesotho High Court convicted 18 supporters of the BCP of treason for their involvement in a conspiracy to overthrow the government of Prime Minister Leabua Jonathan the previous year.  LLA militants attacked the main post office and power station in Maseru in May 1979.  The government declared a state of emergency in June 1979.  Some 770 individuals fled as refugees to South Africa in November and December 1979.  The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) provided humanitarian assistance to Lesotho refugees in South Africa.  On February 1, 1980, the Lesotho government established diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union.  Subsequently, the Lesotho government received military assistance from the Soviet Union, Cuba, People’s Republic of China, and North Korea.  The South African government provided military assistance (training and weapons) to the LLA beginning in 1980.  Government police and LLA militants clashed in northern Lesotho on June 3-4, 1980, resulting in the deaths of eight militants.  At least 30 individuals were killed in LLA militant attacks between May 1979 and July 1980.  On September 7, 1981, Edgar Mahlomola Motuba, the editor of the independent newspaper The Spark of Lesotho (Leslinyana), and two other individuals were abducted from a home in Morija and killed by suspected government policemen.  On May 23, 1982, LLA militants ambushed and killed one individual in the Berea district.  On July 5, 1982, LLA militants killed a former exiled BCP leader, Koenyama Chakela, who had participated in the government’s amnesty program.  LLA militants killed three individuals, including Minister of Works Jobo K. Rampeta, in Berea district on August 7, 1982.  On August 14, 1982, Prime Minister Leabua Jonathan accused the South African government of training, equipping, and sheltering members of the LLA.  The next day, the South African government rejected the accusation.  LLA militants and government police clashed in the Butha Buthe district on September 2, 1982, resulting in the deaths of two militants.  On November 10, 1982, LLA militants bombed the vehicle of Minister of State Lekhooana Jonathan in Leribe district, resulting in injuries to a bodyguard and driver.  South African military personnel raided the homes of alleged African National Congress (ANC) members in Maseru on December 9, 1982, resulting in the deaths of 30 South African refugees and 12 Lesotho citizens.  LLA militants attacked a government police armory in the Butha Buthe district on December 14, 1982, resulting in the deaths of four individuals.  On December 14, 1982, the UN General Assembly condemned South Africa’s raid in Lesotho.  The next day, the UN Security Council strongly condemned South Africa’s aggressive act against Lesotho.  On December 22, 1982, Charles D. Mofeli, leader of the United Democratic Party (UDP), called for the removal of all South African political refugees from Lesotho.  LLA militants blew up a water storage facility in Maseru on January 28, 1983.  LLA militants attacked and damaged a fuel depot and steel factory in Maseru on February 13, 1983.  The Lesotho government blamed the South African government for the attack, but the South African government rejected the accusation.  On March 26, 1983, a group of 50 South African-trained LLA militants attacked a Lesotho Paramilitary Force (LPF) base in Ongeluksnek in southern Lesotho, resulting in the deaths of 20 militants.   On June 30, 1983, LLA militants and government policemen clashed near Kolonyama, resulting in the deaths of ten militants and two policemen.  Prime Minister Leabua Jonathan survived a car bombing in Maseru on August 4, 1983.  LLA militants clashed with government policemen near the border with South Africa on September 11, 1983.  LLA militants killed five government police on November 14, 1983.  LLA militants killed four civilians in the Butha Buthe district on December 30, 1984.  King Moshoeshoe II dissolved the interim National Assembly on January 1, 1985.  Parliamentary elections were held in August-September 1985, and the BNP won 60 out of 60 seats in the National Assembly.  Opposition political parties boycotted the parliamentary elections.  LLA militants, along with South African military personnel, attacked and killed nine individuals in Maseru on December 20, 1985.  On December 30, 1985, the UN Security Council condemned the South African government for participating in the raid in Lesotho. On January 1, 1986, the South African government imposed a border blockage on Lesotho, resulting in a shortage of food and other items.  On January 15, 1986, the government appealed to the governments of the United Kingdom and U.S. to ask South Africa to lift their border blockade of Lesotho.  Government troops suppressed a mutiny by 35 members of the Lesotho Paramilitary Force (LPF) near Maseru on January 17-18, 1986, resulting in the deaths of two government police and two rebels.  Prime Minister Leabua Jonathan was deposed in a military coup led by Major General Justin Lekhanya on January 20, 1986, and a six-member Military Council chaired by Major-General Justin Lekhanya took control of the government on January 24, 1986.  Upon the South African government’s insistence, the Military Council expelled about 60 members and supporters of the African National Congress (ANC) to Zambia on January 25, 1986.  The same day, the South African government ended its border blockade on Lesotho.  The South African government provided military assistance (weapons and equipment) to the Military Council.  On March 27, 1986, King Moshoeshoe II issued a decree banning all political party activity.  On November 15, 1986, two former cabinet ministers – former foreign minister Vincent Makhele and former information minister Desmond Sixishe – were abducted and killed in Lesotho’s Maluti Mountains by government security forces.  The former cabinet ministers’ spouses were also abducted and killed.  The military government declared a state-of-emergency on February 25, 1988.  On February 19, 1990, Major-General Justin Lekhanya removed three members of the Military Council – Colonel Sekhobe Letsie, Colonel Thaabe Letsie, and Colonel Khethang Mosoeuyane – who were accused of plotting a royalist coup.  One member of the Council of Ministers – Colonel Monyane Mokhantso – was also removed.  On February 22, 1990, Major-General Justin Lekhanya stripped all executive and legislative powers from King Moshoeshoe II.  On March 5, 1990, the Military Council rescinded a 1986 decree that had given political authority to the monarchy.  King Moshoeshoe II left the country for the United Kingdom on March 10, 1990.  On May 14, 1990, the National Constituent Assembly (NCA) was established to draft a new constitution.  The NCA convened in Maseru on June 28, 1990.  On August 27, 1990, Bathobokae Mokhothu was shot and killed by government police during a demonstration in Maseru in support of a nationwide teachers’ strike.  King Moshoeshoe II was formally overthrown by the military government on November 6, 1990, and his son (Letsie David Seeiso) was crowned King Letsie III.  Major-General Justin Lekhanya was deposed in a military coup led by Colonel Elias Phisoana Ramaeme on April 30, 1991, and Colonel Elias Tutsuoane Ramaema was appointed as Chairman of the Military Council on May 1, 1991.  On May 3, 1991, a 14-member Council of Ministers was established with seven military members and seven civilian members.  Colonel Elias Tutsuoane Ramaema lifted the ban on political party activity on May 13, 1991.  The NCA produced a draft of a new constitution in July 1991.  On March 25, 1993, the Military Council adopted a new constitution, which went into effect on April 2, 1993.  Parliamentary elections were held on March 27, 1993, and the Basotho Congress Party (BCP) won 65 out of 65 seats in the National Assembly.  The CON sent short-term observers to monitor the parliamentary elections.  The Organization of African Union (OAU) sent short-term observers to monitor the parliamentary elections.  The United Nations (UN) sent 130 short-term observers from 29 countries to monitor the parliamentary elections.  On March 28, 1993, the BNP announced that it did not accept the result of the parliamentary elections.  Ntsu Mokhehle of the BCP was appointed as prime minister on April 2, 1993.

Post-Crisis Phase (April 3, 1993-January 13, 1994):  Prime Minister Ntsu Mokhehle announced plans to integrate the BCP’s armed wing, the Lesotho Liberation Army (LLA), with the Royal Lesotho Defense Force (RLDF).

Crisis Phase (January 14, 1994-September 14, 1994):  Rival factions of the RLDF clashed in Maseru beginning on January 14, 1994. The government of Lesotho requested South African mediation on January 14, 1994, and Foreign Minister Pik Botha of South Africa attempted to mediate negotiations between the parties beginning on January 15, 1994.  UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali sent Aldo Ajello of Italy to mediate negotiations between the parties on January 19, 1994.  The OAU sent a delegation to mediate negotiations between the parties on January 22, 1994.  Moses Anafu of Ghana and Max Gaylard of Australia, representing the CON, attempted to mediate negotiations between the parties beginning on January 25, 1994.  The rival factions of the RLDF agreed to stop fighting on January 25, 1994, after the deaths of five government soldiers.  The Russian government appealed for peaceful negotiations on January 27, 1994.  The governments of Botswana, South Africa, and Zimbabwe, representing the Southern African Development Community (SADC), sent a 17-member fact-finding mission on January 28, 1994.  CON mediators negotiated an agreement between the military factions on February 1, 1994, which provided for the return of soldiers to their respective barracks.  Government soldiers mutinied and killed Deputy Prime Minister Selometsi Baholo on April 14, 1994.  King Letsie III dissolved parliament and dismissed the government of Prime Minister Ntsu Mokhehle on August 15, 1994.  Prime Minister Ntsu Mokhehle declared the dismissal of the government as unconstitutional.  Government police and supporters of Prime Minister Ntsu Mokhehle clashed in Maseru on August 17, 1994, resulting in the deaths of five individuals.  King Letsie III appointed a 16-member Council of Ministers headed by Hae Phoofolo on August 19, 1994.  President Nelson Mandela of South Africa, President Ketumile Masire of Botswana, and President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe jointly condemned the dismissal of Prime Minister Ntsu Mokhehle on August 23, 1994.  The governments of Botswana, South Africa, and Zimbabwe, representing the SADC, established a conciliation commission to mediate negotiations between the parties.  The SADC conciliation commission mediated an agreement between King Letsie III and Prime Minister Ntsu Mokhehle on September 14, 1994, which resulted in the reinstatement of the prime minister and the abdication of the king.  Several hundred individuals were killed in political violence during the crisis.

Post-Crisis Phase (September 15, 1994-August 3, 1998):  King Moshoeshoe II was reinstated as monarch on January 25, 1995 after his son, King Letsie III, abdicated.  King Moshoeshoe II was killed in an automobile accident on January 15, 1996, and he was succeeded by his son, Letsie III, on February 7, 1996.  Some 400 police officers mutinied in February 1997, but the mutiny was suppressed by Lesotho troops several days later.  Prime Minister Ntsu Mokhehle and 37 former BCP members of the parliament formed the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) on June 7, 1997.  King Letsie III dissolved the parliament on February 27, 1998.  Parliamentary elections were held on May 23, 1998, and the LCD won 79 out of 80 seats in the National Assembly.  The BNP won one seat in the National Assembly.  The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) declared the elections to be free and fair, although opposition political parties claimed election fraud. The SADC monitored the elections and also reported that, despite some irregularities, the election was conducted in a free and fair manner. The CON sent fifteen short-term observers from nine countries headed by Sir Linden Pindling of the Bahamas to monitor the parliamentary elections from May 15 to May 24, 1998.  Pakalitha Mosisili of the LCD was sworn in as prime minister on May 29, 1998.

Crisis Phase (August 4, 1998-May 15, 1999):  Opposition parties began demonstrations against the government beginning on August 4, 1998.  One individual was killed in anti-government demonstrations in Maseru on August 10, 1998.  The South African government attempted to mediate negotiations between the government and opposition leaders beginning on August 10, 1998.  The parties signed an agreement on August 13, 1998, which provided for the establishment of a SADC commission of inquiry to investigate the May 1998 elections.  Government troops and demonstrators clashed in Maseru on August 13-17, 1998, resulting in the deaths of four individuals.  Several units of the Lesotho Defense Force (LDF) mutinied on September 11, 1998.  On September 16, 1998, Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili requested military intervention from the governments of South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana, and Mozambique.  On September 17, 1998, the SADC commission of inquiry (“Langa Commission”), which was composed of election experts from Botswana, South Africa, and Zimbabwe headed by Judge Pius Langa of South Africa, issued a report on its investigation of the May 1998 elections.  The Langa Commission report acknowledged some “irregularities and discrepancies”, but did not recommend that the results of the election be annulled. The South African government ended its efforts to mediate negotiations between the parties on September 21, 1998.  Some 600 South African troops and 200 Botswana troops commanded by Colonel Robbie Hartslief of South Africa were initially deployed to restore law and order in Maseru beginning on September 22, 1998.  SADC peacekeeping troops clashed with members of the LDF in Maseru on September 22-23, 1998, resulting in the deaths of 58 LDF soldiers and nine South African soldiers.  The SADC peacekeeping force, officially known as the Combined Task Force for Operation Boleas, increased to approximately 3,500 South African soldiers and 350 Botswana soldiers by October 1998.  A SADC conciliation commission (Botswana, Mozambique, South Africa, Zimbabwe) mediated negotiations among the political factions in Maseru beginning on October 2, 1998.  On October 29, 1998, representatives of the Lesotho government and opposition political parties signed an agreement to establish the 24-member Interim Political Authority (IPA), which would facilitate the holding of national elections within 18 months.  The IPA formally assumed control of the government on December 9, 1998.  SADC peacekeeping troops completed their withdrawal from Lesotho on May 15, 1999.  More than 100 individuals, including a total of eleven South African soldiers, were killed during the crisis.  Some 4,000 individuals fled as refugees to South Africa during the crisis.

Post-Crisis Phase (May 16, 1999-June 18, 2014):  The SADC deployed 300 personnel from Botswana and South Africa in a mission known as Operation Maluti to rebuild and retrain the LDF beginning on May 16, 1999. On August 25, 1999, the IPA adopted the mix-member proportional (MMP) electoral system and a 120-seat parliament, including 80 single-member district (first-past-the-post) seats and 40 proportional representation seats.  The governments of India and Lesotho signed an military training cooperation agreement in May 2001.  The Indian government deployed the 15-member Indian Army Training Training Team (IATT) in Lesotho in July 2001.  Parliamentary elections were held on May 25, 2002, and the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) won 77 out of 120 seats in the National Assembly.  The BNP won 21 seats in the National Assembly.  The CON sent six short-term observers and five staff personnel led by Sir James Mitchell of St. Vincent & Grenadines to monitor the parliamentary elections from May 8 to May 30, 2002.  The SADC Parliamentary Forum sent 25 observers led by Leornado Santos Simao of Mozambique to monitor the parliamentary elections from May 15 to May 26, 2002.  The Organization of African Unity (OAU) sent short-term observers to monitor the parliamentary elections.  Pakalitha Mosisili of the LCD was sworn in for a second five-year term as prime minister on June 4, 2002.  Local elections were held on April 30, 2005.  The CON sent four observers to monitor the elections from April 23 to May 5, 2005.  Thomas Thabane, Minister of Communications, Science, and Technology, resigned from the government on October 9, 2006.  On October 13, 2006, the All Basotho Convention (ABC) was established by Thomas Thabane and 16 other former members of the LCD.  King Letsia III dissolved the National Assembly on November 24, 2006.  The Electoral Institute of Southern Africa (EISA), a non-governmental organization headquartered in South Africa, sent a pre-election assessment mission to Lesotho on January 9-12, 2007.  The National Democratic Institute (NDI) sent a pre-election delegation to assess the political environment in Lesotho on January 22-25, 2007.  Parliamentary elections were held on February 17, 2007, and the LCD won 61 out of 120 seats in the National Assembly.  The National Independent Party (NIP) won 21 seats in the National Assembly.  The CON sent three short-term observers from three countries and two staff members to monitor the parliamentary elections from February 8 to February 23, 2007.  The SADC Parliamentary Forum sent observers to monitor the parliamentary elections.  The EISA sent 17 short-term observers from seven countries led by former president Sir Ketumile Masire of Botswana to monitor the parliamentary elections from February 8 to February 27, 2007.  Thomas Thabane, leader of the ABC, disputed the allocation of parliamentary seats under Lesotho’s proportional representation (PR) electoral system and demanded new parliamentary elections.  Former president Sir Ketumile Masire of Botswana was appointed by the SADC to mediate a resolution of the political dispute.  On July 19, 2007, members of the LDF and the Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) launched a joint operation near Maseru to recover weapons stolen from the government a month earlier.  One individual was killed and one individual was arrested during the joint operation.  Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili survived an assassination attempt at his home in Maseru on April 22, 2009, and three of the assailants were killed by government security forces.  President Kgalema Motlanthe of South Africa, chairperson of the SADC, condemned the attempted assassination of Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili.  Sir Ketumile Masire resigned as the SADC envoy to Lesotho in July 2009.  Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili resigned from the LCD and established the Democratic Congress (DC) on February 29, 2012.  The CON sent a pre-election assessment mission to Lesotho on April 2-5, 2012.  Parliamentary elections were held on May 26, 2012, and the DC won 48 out of 120 seats in the National Assembly.  The All Basotho Convention (ABC) led by Thomas Thabane won 30 seats in the National Assembly, and the LCD won 26 seats in the National Assembly.  The CON sent seven short-term observers and four staff members led by former President Bakili Muluzi of Malawi to monitor the parliamentary elections from May 19 to June 1, 2012.  The African Union (AU) sent 20 short-term observers from 13 countries led by former President Yakubu Gowon of Nigeria to monitor the parliamentary elections from May 20 to May 31, 2012.  The SADC established the 65-observer SADC Electoral Observer Mission (SEOM) led by the Ebrahim Ismael Ebrahim of South Africa to monitor the parliamentary elections on May 12, 2012.  The SADC Parliamentary Forum sent 22 short-term observers, including five staff members from the SADC Parliamentary Forum, from eight countries to monitor the parliamentary elections from May 15 to May 29, 2012.  The EISA sent 18 short-term observers from eleven countries led by former President Rupiah Banda of Zambia to monitor the parliamentary elections from May 16 to May 28, 2012.  Thomas Thabane of the ABC was sworn in as prime minister of a coalition government on June 8, 2012.

Crisis Phase (June 19, 2014-March 30, 2015):  Prime Minister Thomas Thabane suspended the parliament to avoid of vote of no-confidence on June 19, 2014.  Prime Minister Thomas Thabane dismissed the commander of the LDF, Lt. General Tlali Kamoli, and replaced him with Brigadier Maaparankoe Maha on August 29, 2014.  On August 30, 2014, Prime Minister Thomas Thabane fled to South Africa following an alleged military coup.  Government troops clashed with government police in Maseru, resulting in the death of one government policeman.  The Lesotho military denied that there had been a military coup.  Prime Minister Thomas Thabane accused Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing of participating in the planning of the alleged military coup.  The government of South Africa condemned the “unconstitutional change of government” in Lesotho on August 30, 2014.  CON Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma condemned the “unconstitutional overthrow of an elected government” in Lesotho.  On September 1, 2014, Prime Minister Thomas Thabane requested SADC military intervention to restore order in Lesotho, but the SADC rejected the request for military intervention.  At Prime Minister Thabane’s request, the South African government deployed a contingent of the South Africa Police Service (SAPS) to Maseru to reinforce public security in the capital and to provide Prime Minister Thomas Thabane and other government officials with security protection beginning on September 2, 2014.  On September 3, 2014, Prime Minister Thomas Thabane returned to Lesotho from South Africa.  On September 15, 2014, the SADC Troika Summit of Heads of State and Government appointed Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa to mediate negotiations between the parties and established the SADC Observer Mission in Lesotho (SOMILES), which consisted of approximately 200 police officers and military personnel from six SADC member-states (South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Tanzania, Malawi, and Zimbabwe) headed by Fannie Phakola from South Africa.  Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa mediated negotiations beginning on September 18, 2014.  The parties signed the Maseru Facilitation Declaration on October 2, 2014, which committed all political parties to commit to the reconvening of the parliament and the holding of elections in February 2015.  The National Assembly reconvened in Maseru on October 17, 2014.  The parties signed the Maseru Security Accord on October 23, 2014.  Commander Tlali Kamoli, Brigadier Maaparankoe Maha, and Police Commissioner Khothatso Tšooana agreed to go on special leave and refrain from exercising authority over the Lesotho military or police.  King Letsie III dissolved the National Assembly on December 5, 2014.  The parties signed the Electoral Pledge on December 11, 2014.  Parliamentary elections were held on February 28, 2015, and the DC won 47 out of 120 seats in the National Assembly.  The All Basotho Convention (ABC) won 46 seats in the National Assembly, and the LCD won 12 seats in the National Assembly.  The SADC sent 82 short-term observers from 11 countries headed by Maite Nkoana-Mashabane from South Africa to monitor the parliamentary elections from February 18 to March 2, 2015.  The African Union (AU) sent observers to monitor the parliamentary elections.  The CON sent short-term observers led by former president Festus Mogae of Botswana to monitor the parliamentary elections from February 22 to March 2, 2015.  On March 4, 2015, five opposition political parties, including the DC, agreed to form a new coalition government.  Pakalitha Mosisili of the DC was sworn in as prime minister in Maseru on March 17, 2015.  The SADC observer mission in Lesotho, SOMILES, was disbanded on March 30, 2015.

Post-Crisis Phase (March 31, 2015-September 4, 2017):  On June 25, 2015, Lt. General Maaparankoe Mahao, former Commander of the LDF, was killed by members of the LDF near Maseru.  On June 26, 2015, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the killing of Lt. General Maaparankoe Mahao.  On July 3, 2015, the SADC Summit of Heads of State and Government established a ten-member commission of inquiry headed by Mpaphi Passevil Phumaphi of Botswana to investigate the death of Brigadier Maaparankoe Maha beginning on July 20, 2015.  The SADC commission of inquiry issued a report on November 5, 2015.  Lloyd Mutungamiri, editor of the Lesotho Times newspaper, was shot and injured by members of the LDF at his home in Maseru on July 9, 2016.  On July 11, 2016, the London-based human rights non-governmental organization Amnesty International condemned the shooting of Lloyd Mutungamiri.  The National Assembly approved a vote of no-confidence in the government headed by Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili on March 1, 2017.  King Letsie II dissolved the National Assembly on March 6, 2017.  Parliamentary elections were held on June 3, 2017, and the ABC won 48 out of 120 seats in the National Assembly.  The LCD won 30 seats in the National Assembly.  The African Union (AU) sent six election experts and 26 short-term observers led by former President Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique to monitor the parliamentary elections from May 13 to June 5, 2017.  The SADC Parliamentary Forum sent 22 short-term observers led by Minister of Foreign Affairs Augustine Mahiga of Tanzania to monitor the parliamentary elections from May 25 to June 5, 2017.  The CON sent four short-term observers and three staff members led by Mmasekgoa Masire-Mwamba of Botswana to monitor the parliamentary elections from May 27 to June 8, 2017.  The EISA sent 19 short-term observers led by former President Rupiah Banda of Zambia to monitor the parliamentary elections on June 3-5, 2017.  Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s estranged wife Lipolelo Thabane was killed on June 14, 2017.  Thomas Thabane was sworn in as prime minister in Maseru on June 16, 2017.  On August 28, 2017, former defense minister Tseliso Mokhosi was arrested for the murder of Mokalekale Khetheng, a police officer who was reported missing in March 2016.  Tseliso Mokhosi was released from jail on bail the next day.  Former deputy prime minister Mothetjoa Metsing and former defense minister Tseliso Mokhosi both fled to South Africa on August 31, 2017.

Crisis Phase (September 5, 2017-November 20, 2018):  Lt. General Khoantle Motšomotšo, commander of the LDF, and two military guards were killed by soldiers at a military barracks in Maseru on September 5, 2017.  On September 6, 2017, the SADC condemned the killing of the commander of the LDF.  The SADC authorized the deployment of a contingent of personnel in Lesotho to facility “a secure, stable, and peaceful environment.”  The SADC Preventive Mission in the Kingdom of Lesotho (SAPMIL), which consisted of personnel from Angola, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, was deployed in Lesotho on November 20, 2017.  SAPMIL consisted of 269 personnel headed by Ambassador Matias Matondo from Angola, including 207 military personnel, 15 intelligence officers, 24 police officers, and 12 civilian experts.  On December 4, 2017, five members of the LDF were formally charged for the 2016 attempted murder of Lloyd Mutungamiri, editor of the Lesotho Times newspaper.  SAPMIL was authorized by the AU Peace and Security Council (PSC) on January 24, 2018.  On April 24, 2018, the SADC Summit of Heads of State and Government held in Luanda, Angola extended the mandate of SAPMIL for an additional six months.  President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa appointed Dikgang Moseneke as South Africa’s special envoy to Lesotho in June 2018.  The Lesotho National Dialogue and Stabilization Project (LNDSP), which was intended to “facilitate the process of consensus building and to provide a conducive environment for the smooth implementation of the national reforms,” was officially launched on June 25, 2018.  On September 21, 2018, retired Brig. General Timothy Kazembe from Zambia took over as head of SAPMIL.  On October 16, 2018, Deputy Prime Minister Monyane Moleleki and Mathibeli Mokhothu, representing a coalition of opposition political parties, signed an SADC-facilitated Memorandum of Understanding in Maseru.  The parties to the memorandum, which consisted of 17 clauses, agreed to participate in the upcoming Multi-Stakeholder National Dialogue (MSND).  The SADC completed the withdrawal of SAPMIL personnel from Lesotho on November 20, 2018.

Post-Crisis Phase (November 21, 2018-present):  On November 23, 2018, Lesotho’s Constitutional Court nullified Clause 10 of the Memorandum of Understanding that would have protected exiled opposition leaders, including former deputy prime minister Mothetjoa Metsing and former defense minister Tseliso Mokhosi, from criminal proceedings during their participation in the MSND in Lesotho.  The first plenary session of the MSND was held in Maseru on November 26-28, 2018.  On August 28, 2019, the 33-member Senate approved the National Reforms Authority (NRA) bill.  The second plenary session of the MSND was held in Maseru on November 25-27, 2019.  On February 5, 2020, Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s wife Maesaiah Thabane was charged with the murder of Lipolelo Thabane in June 2017.  The 59-member National Reforms Authority (NRA) was officially inaugurated in Maseru on February 13, 2020.  Chief Pelele Letsoel, leader of the Basotho Democratic National Party (BDNP), was elected as Chairperson of the NRA.  On February 24, 2020, Judge Phetise Motanyane referred the murder case against Prime Minister Thomas Thabane to the Constitutional Court to determine if a prime minister has immunity from criminal prosecution.  On April 20, 2020, members of Lesotho’s coalition government called for the resignation of Prime Minister Thomas Thabane.  On May 11, 2020, the coalition government headed by Prime Minister Thomas Thabane collapsed after the coalition partners withdrew their support for the government.  Sephiri Motanyane, Speaker of the National Assembly, indicated that the prime minister would have to resign within eleven days.  On May 19, 2020, Prime Minister Thomas Thabane resigned, and former finance minister Moeketsi Majoro of the ABC was sworn in as the prime minister on May 20, 2020.  On May 21, 2020, Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro named Mathibeli Mokhothu, leader of the DC, as the deputy prime minister.  On April 22, 2021, Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro fired three ministers and one deputy minister from his cabinet, including Justice Minister Nqosa Mahao and Police and Public Safety Minister Mamoipone Senauoane.  Nqosa Mahao launched a new political party, the Basotho Action Party (BAP), on April 23, 2021.

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Selected Bibliography

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Johnson Likoti, Fako. 2009. “The 2007 General Election in Lesotho: The Application and the Challenges of the Electoral System,” African Studies Quarterly, vol. 10 (4), pp. 57-69.

Macartney, W. J. A. 1973. “The Lesotho General Election of 1970.” Government and Opposition, vol. 8 (4), pp. 473-494.

Matlosa, Khabele. 1997. “The 1993 Elections in Lesotho and The Nature of the BCP Victory,” African Journal of Political Science, vol. 2 (1), pp. 140-151.

Mothobe, Tefetso H. 1990. “Lesotho: The Rise and Fall of Military-Monarchy Power-Sharing, 1986-1990,” Africa Insight, vol. 20 (4), pp. 242-246.

Pherudi, Mokete. 2003. “Operation Boleas Under Microscope, 1998-1999,” Southern Journal for Contemporary History, vol. 28 (1), pp. 123-137.

Sekatle, Pontso. 1999. “The Lesotho General Election of 1998,” Lesotho Social Science Review, vol. 5 (1), pp. 31-45.

Southall, Roger. 1994. “The 1993 Lesotho Election,” Review of African Political Economy, vol. 21 (59), pp. 110-118.

Southall, Roger. 2003. “An Unlikely Success: South Africa and Lesotho’s Election of 2002,” Journal of Modern African Studies, vol. 41 (2), pp. 269-296.

Southall, Roger and Roddy Fox. 1999. “Lesotho’s General Election of 1998: Rigged or De Rigeur?,” The Journal of Modern African Studies, vol. 37 (4), pp. 669-696.

Wallis, Malcolm and Robert D’A Henderson. 1983. “Lesotho 1983: Year of the Election?,” The World Today, vol. 39 (5), pp. 185-193.