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Lesotho’s prime minister to be charged with murdering wife – police

epa03885472 Thomas Motsoahae Thabane, Prime Minister of Lesotho, speaks during the general debate of the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly at United Nations headquarters in New York, New York, USA, 26 September 2013. EPA/STAN HONDA / POOL

MASERU, Feb 20 (Reuters) - Lesotho's Prime Minister Thomas Thabane is to be charged with the murder of his former wife, the deputy police commissioner said on Thursday.

Thabane, 80, announced on Thursday that he would be stepping down at the end of July, citing old age as the reason for leaving office.

The leader of the small southern African nation has been under mounting pressure over the death of former first lady Lipolelo Thabane and the alleged involvement of his current wife.

Lipolelo Thabane was shot dead in June 2017 near her home in Maseru. The prime minister’s current wife Maesaiah Thabane was detained this month and charged with ordering the murder.

“The prime minister is going to be charged with the murder. The police are preparing directives and he will probably be charged tomorrow,” said Deputy Commissioner of Police Paseka Mokete.

Police say Maesaiah Thabane hired eight assassins to kill the former first lady, but was not present at the shooting. She has denied any involvement in the killing.

Thabane’s resignation comes days after his own party’s executive council called for him to step down immediately.

“I have served my country diligently,” the prime minister said on state radio.

“I’ve worked for a peaceful and stable Lesotho. Today … at my age, I have lost most of my energy … I hereby retire as prime minister with effect from the end of July.”

Thabane is set to appear in court on the murder charges on Friday. (Reporting by Tim Cocks Writing by Mfuneko Toyana; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

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