Moeketsi Majoro, a former finance minister has been sworn in as prime minister of Lesotho following the resignation of Thomas Thabane over a scandal on his alleged involvement in the murder of his ex-wife.
Majoro, 58, took the oath of office at a ceremony at the royal palace of King Letsie III in the small southern African kingdom, pledging “I will be a true and faithful prime minister, so help me God”, an AFP report said.
He is a seasoned economist who previously worked as an executive director at the International Monetary Fund in one of its Africa offices.
He will stay in charge until scheduled elections in June 2022.
It was only the third time that power has changed hands peacefully in Lesotho’s history since independence from Britain in 1966, a period marked by coups and waves of unrest.
Octogenarian politician Thomas Thabane, 80, bowed to calls to resign on Tuesday, three months after police named him and his current wife Maesaiah as suspects in the murder of his former spouse Lipolelo in a case that plunged the mountain kingdom into a political crisis.
“I have inadvertently erred in several ways,” Thabane said in his handover speech. “I ask you that you forgive me for my mistakes.”
Lipolelo Thabane was shot dead in her car in June 2017 two days before her husband’s inauguration as leader of the country of about two million people. He married Maesaiah two months later.
Maesaiah, 43, has been charged with murder, while Thomas Thabane argued in court in February that he has immunity due to his office. Both deny any wrongdoing.
Thabane’s own All Basotho Convention (ABC) party, opposition figures and South African mediators had leant on him to quit, but he had resisted, supported by an inner circle of loyalists.
In comments after the swearing-in, the new prime minister promised to make tackling COVID-19 – Lesotho has recorded one case so far – poverty and unemployment his main priorities.
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