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18 Apr 2020 | 10:11 AM UTC

Lesotho: Prime Minister deploys army in Maseru to “restore law and order” April 18

Prime Minister Tom Thabane deploys army in Maseru to “restore law and order” on April 18; heightened security presence expected

legal
security
LSO

Event

On Saturday, April 18, Prime Minister Tom Thabane announced in a brief television statement the deployment of the army onto the streets with immediate effect to "restore peace and order", claiming that some law enforcement institutions were undermining democracy. This announcement comes a day after the constitutional court prevented Thabane from suspending the police commissioner, and overturned Thabane's decision to suspend parliament for a three-month period as part of the coronavirus (COVID-19)-related lockdown. According to media sources, soldiers in armed vehicles have been patrolling the streets of Maseru as of early Saturday.

Thabane faces increasing criticism from the opposition that denounces the deployment of the army as a way of implementing martial law, as well as suppressing free-speech.

A heightened security presence and associated opposition rallies and unrest are possible in the coming days.

Context

Thabane reportedly announced his intention to resign on Thursday, January 16, but no date was set for the prime minister to formally step down. The ongoing crisis followed accusations by members of the ruling All Basotho Convention party that Thabane was impeding an investigation into the 2017 murder of his ex-wife, Lipolelo Thabane. Evidence has reportedly surfaced linking Thabane to the murder.

Advice

Individuals in Lesotho are advised to monitor developments to the situation, avoid all protests as a precaution, and obey all instructions issued by the local authorities.