An attempted military coup took place in Lesotho Saturday, the country’s Prime Minister, Thomas Thabane, said in an interview aired by South African broadcaster eNCA.
The prime minister of the southern African kingdom of Lesotho has fled to South Africa, alleging a coup by the army and saying his life is in danger. Speaking to the BBC, Thomas Thabane said he would return from South Africa, which surrounds Lesotho, “as soon as I know I am not going to get killed”.
Reports say the capital, Maseru, is now calm after soldiers seized buildings. The army denied staging a coup.
Lesotho has seen a series of military coups since independence in 1966.
Thabane has headed a unity government since, but suspended parliament sessions in June amid feuding in his coalition.
The Lesotho government is seeking the assistance of the South African government and other neighboring states, Thabane said.
The Prime Minister said that since the Lesotho military was looking for him, he decided “to get out of the way,” and fled to an unknown location.
“In my political life, it was not the first time that I saw this kind of activity by the Lesotho army,” Thabane said. A lot of effort has been made to reform the military and to “make it a normal army that is subject to the civilian authority,” according to Thabane.
He told the broadcaster he would not resign.
Thabane became Prime Minister in 2012, when he formed the kingdom’s first coalition government, according to the CIA World Factbook. Elections are next due in 2017.
Lesotho, a landlocked enclave of South Africa, has a population of nearly 2 million and covers an area slightly smaller than the U.S. state of Maryland, according to the World Factbook.