Thabane began his second term as prime minister in 2017 [File: Gulshan Khan/AFP]
Lesotho Prime Minister Thomas Thabane has formally resigned more than a week after his coalition government fell apart, in a move that could help end a long-running political crisis in the country.
“I come before you today to announce that the work that you assigned me may not be over but the time to retire from the great theatre of action, take leave from public life and office has finally arrived,” the 80-year-old said in a televised address on Tuesday.
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“I plead with the entire nation and leadership to give my successor utmost support and on my part I wish to assure him of my support at all material times,” he added.
Al Jazeera’s Haru Mutasa reported that Thabane had formally handed in his resignation to King Letsie III, the top traditional leader of the tiny mountainous kingdom.
Thabane, the leader of All Basotho Convention (ABC) party, was facing mounting pressure to step down over a case in which he and his current wife are suspected of involvement in the 2017 murder of his previous, estranged wife. They both deny this.
The embattled prime minister had promised in January to retire due to old age but had been dragging his feet on when to do so.
Thabane’s ruling coalition collapsed on May 11, and he had been expected to resign by May 22 when a new government is due to be installed.
Finance Minister Moeketsi Majoro, 58, is expected to replace him.
Thabane first served as prime minister between 2012 and February 2015 when a split within the coalition government led to an early general election.
The succeeding government, led by Pakalitha Mosisili of the Democratic Congress party, was also rocked by divisions.
Mosilili lost a vote of no-confidence, and Thabane returned to power after a 2017 vote as the head of the ABC-led coalition which was endorsed by three smaller political parties.
Al Jazeera and news agencies