The first years after Lestoho's independence
in 1966 were marked by political contradictions, coups
and periods of military rule. From 1965, the policy was
dominated by Leabua Jonathan, leader of the party that
was the biggest in independence - the Basutoland
National Party (GDP). In 1986 he was deposed in a
military coup. Democracy was reintroduced in 1993.
In the 1970 parliamentary elections, the Basutoland
Congress Party (BCP) won, but the election was annulled
by Leabua Jonathan, who introduced a state of emergency
and allowed the arrest of BCP leader Ntsu Mokhele. In
1974, the BCP tried to overthrow Jonathan in a coup but
failed and the party leadership was forced into exile.
List of most commonly used acronyms containing Lesotho. Also includes historical, economical and political aspects of the country.
Leabua Jonathan then ruled Lesotho more or less
single-handedly for twelve years. He had come to power
thanks to support from South Africa, but became
increasingly critical of the apartheid system there and
gave the South African liberation movement ANC a
sanctuary in Lesotho.
South Africa closed the border with Lesotho and in
1986 Jonathan was deposed in a military coup. A military
junta led by General Justin Lekhanya took over the
government and banned political parties. Formally, the
power of King Moshoeshoe II lay, but he must obey the
junta. When the King began to demand real influence in
1990, he was deposed by the military, who instead
proclaimed Moshoeshoe's son as King by the name of
In 1991, General Lekhanya himself was deposed in a
palace coup by other junta members. Political parties
were allowed to work again and a new constitution was
drafted. The following year, Moshoeshoe returned from
his exile in Britain. In 1993, free elections were held
for the first time since 1970 and this time the
victorious BCP formed government with Mokhele as prime
Soon, however, dissatisfaction within the military
arose, and disputes erupted between mythists and
governmental allies. In 1994, Mokhele appointed a
commission to investigate the deposition of King
Moshoeshoe. King Letsie responded by dismissing Mokhele
and taking power himself. After pressure from abroad,
the king reinstated the government. The following year,
Letsie abdicated in favor of his father, but in 1996
Moshoeshoe passed away and Letsie became king again. He
then promised not to interfere in politics.
After a power struggle within the BCP ruling party,
Mokhele resigned and formed the rival Lesotho Congress
for Democracy (LCD) in 1997 but retained the post of
Prime Minister. In 1998, Mokhele resigned as the leader
of LCD and was succeeded by Pakalitha Mosisili.
In the parliamentary elections that year, LCD won
almost all the seats and Mosisili formed government.
Several candidates who have not been elected protested
and claimed electoral fraud. The protests became
increasingly violent and an investigation was set up,
led by a South African judge. Investigators found that
irregularities had occurred in the election but that
they were insufficient to influence the outcome.
Despite this, the protests continued in which young
officers participated. Prime Minister Mosisili asked
South Africa for help to prevent a military coup. When
South African allies moved into the country, they faced
fierce resistance and at least 68 people were killed. An
authority with representatives of several parties was
appointed to review the electoral laws and prepare for
the next parliamentary elections.
The May 2002 elections were held under peaceful
conditions and considered by outside observers to have
been conducted correctly. The ruling party LCD got its
own majority and Mosisili again became prime minister.
In 2003, Lesotho was threatened by famine since
prolonged drought led to malnutrition. In early 2004,
emergency permits were introduced to facilitate aid
work. Then more than a quarter of the population was in
need of food aid from outside.
At the same time, a power struggle was going on
within the government. Minister of the Interior Thomas
Thabane campaigned against the widespread corruption,
which led Mosisili in 2004 to move him to the less
important post of Minister of Communications. At the
2006 LCD Party Congress, Thabane was further humiliated
when he was not elected to the party leadership. Thabane
then left the LCD and formed a new party, the
Allbasothian Convention (ABC). When 17 other LCD
parliamentarians joined the ABC, the position of the
ruling party in parliament weakened.
In this situation, Mosisili decided to advance the
upcoming parliamentary elections from May to February
2007. Thabane made generous promises during the election
campaign and ABC became LCD's main challenger. But when
the voting was completed, it was clear that LCD would
retain government power with the help of the party's
Allied National Independent Party (NIP). ABC became the
largest opposition party.
After the election, the opposition accused the
winning parties of electoral fraud and announced a
three-day general strike. In June 2007, nighttime
curfews were introduced in the capital Maseru after
several ministers were subjected to assaults.
The situation continued to be tense and in April
2009, Mosisili was subjected to a murder attempt when
armed men attacked his home. However, the attack was
fought back and Mosisili escaped unharmed.
The opposition's refusal to accept the election
results led to political turmoil, which only gradually
diminished. At the initiative of the regional
cooperation organization SADC, a negotiating group was
appointed whose task was to ensure that the next
election was peaceful. A dialogue was held between the
country's electoral commission, the government and the
various political parties which resulted in a number of
changes to the electoral laws. Among other things, it
became possible for parties to appeal to the Supreme
Court to appeal the distribution of mandates. The
Election Commission was also given extended powers.
After two years of internal conflict within LCD,
Mosisili broke up with the party in February 2012 and
formed the Democratic Congress (DC). 45 MEPs joined DC,
which thus gained a majority in parliament and could
form a new government.
In the May 2012 elections, DC became the largest
party but failed to get its own majority in parliament.
The opposition could thus take over power. ABC and LCD
joined forces to form a coalition with two smaller
parties. Thomas Thabane became new head of government.
Thabane goes into exile
In the summer of 2014, disagreement within the
government led to the government crisis and the coup
dire. Prime Minister Thomas Thabane was accused by the
other parties in the government coalition of not
listening to other parties. When LCD threatened to
overthrow the government by initiating a vote of no
confidence, Thabane dissolved the parliament.
After mediation by the SADC, the parties closed the
battle ax but in August, unrest erupted in the capital
Maseru since Thabane deposed the country's defense chief
Tlali Kamoli. The change of chief of defense led the
military to take control of police stations in the
capital and initiated a siege of the government office.
Kamoli's successor Maaparankoe Mahao was subjected to a
murder attempt and went underground. Thabane claimed
that Kamoli was about to conduct a coup attempt and fled
to South Africa.
The background to the unrest seemed to be a conflict
between Thabane and Metzing. The army was considered
loyal to Metsing, while the police were considered to be
on Thabane's side.
South Africa became a mediator and Thabane returned
to Lesotho under South African protection. The continued
disagreement within the coalition was resolved by the
parties agreeing to announce new elections until
February 2015. Kamoli and the country's police chief
agreed to resign and leave the country during the
election campaign, but the security situation remained
The choice was very even between Thabanes ABC and
Mosisilis DC. The final result gave DC only one mandate
overweight. Mosisili chose to form government with LCD
and a number of small parties.