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Thomas Thabane (front C), the Prime Minister of Lesotho, announced to the media during a press conference that he will resign as Prime Minister at a date to be confirmed, at the old state house in Maseru, on January 17, 2020. (Photo by MARAFAELE MOHLOBOLI / AFP)

MASERU, Lesotho: Lesotho’s prime minister confirmed Friday that he would resign after police linked him to the murder of his estranged wife nearly three years ago.

Thomas Thabane had faced calls from senior members of his All Basotho Convention (ABC) party to step down after police said there was evidence connecting him to the 2017 killing.

However, Thabane did not address the allegations against him when he announced his resignation plans at a press briefing in the capital Maseru.

Thabane gave no timeframe for his departure, but said he would nevertheless continue in his role as leader of the ABC.

“Truth be told, I have become of age and my strength has lessened, hence I announce before you today that I have an intention to step down and when such time comes I will let you know,” the 80-year-old said.

He said he had worked as long as he could for the well-being of the Basotho, an ethnic group native to Lesotho and South Africa.

“I am convinced that there is still much to do.”

Thabane’s 58-year-old wife Lipolelo was gunned down by unknown assailants on the outskirts of the capital in June 2017 – two days before he took office – in a killing that shocked the tiny country.

The couple were in the process of getting a divorce.

In his inaugural speech, Thabane described his wife’s murder as a “senseless killing.”

Police commissioner Holomo Molibeli, who is challenging Thabane’s attempts to sack him, has filed court documents – seen by AFP last week – alleging there was evidence linking Thabane to the murder.

Thabane was previously premier after 2012 elections but was forced to flee to South Africa – which entirely surrounds Lesotho – following an attempted coup two years later.

His coalition had been largely expected to usher in a new era of stability to the mountain kingdom following the collapse of both the previous joint administrations but three years on, Lesotho remains poverty-stricken. - AFP

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