Lesotho PM to resign, wife wanted for questioning in his previous spouse's killing

Police in Lesotho, a mountain state encircled by South Africa, were searching for the prime minister's wife for questioning in the 2017 killing of his previous wife.

Lipolelo Thabane, estranged from her PM husband, was fatally shot in 2017

Thomas Thabane, second from left, is shown at his 2017 inauguration in Maseru, Lesotho, with current wife Maesaiah. The inauguration occurred just days after his previous wife was shot dead. (Samson Motikoe/AFP via Getty Images)

Lesotho Prime Minister Thomas Thabane, in power since 2012, announced his intention to resign on Thursday, the South African Broadcasting Corporation reported.

The alert on its TV news channel gave no reason, but police are looking for Thabane's wife, Maesaiah, to question her in connection with the killing of his estranged spouse, Lipolelo.

Lipolelo Thabane was fatally shot while driving just days before her husband was sworn in as leader of the mountain kingdom for a second term in June 2017. A court had ruled in 2015 that Lipolelo was his lawful spouse and entitled to benefits, three years after the couple had divorced.

Thabane married his current wife some two months after the killing. Neither the prime minister nor his wife, Maesaiah, have commented publicly on the allegations.

An arrest warrant was issued for Maesaiah Thabane after she failed to turn up for questioning last week, although she has not been charged with any crime.

Police Commissioner Holomo Molibeli had accused the prime minister, who turns 81 this year, of trying to force him into early retirement in order to stop the investigation.

Lesotho, a mountain state encircled by South Africa, three-quarters of which lies more than 1,800 metres above sea level, is one of the world's poorest countries and has one of Africa's highest levels of HIV/AIDS prevalence.

With files from The Associated Press