Lesotho’s prime minister lost a no-confidence vote in parliament on Wednesday, deepening the political uncertainty in the mountain kingdom ahead of an election likely within three months.
Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili, of the Democratic Congress (DC) party, has headed a coalition government since a snap election in 2015 that was called in an effort to end Lesotho’s prolonged power struggles.
But the coalition has recently fragmented, and parliament on Wednesday voted in favour of replacing Mosisili with Monyane Moleleki, whose Alliance of Democrats party split from the DC last year.
Completely landlocked by South Africa, Lesotho is one of the world’s poorest countries and its economy is heavily dependent on its neighbour, to where it exports water and hydroelectric power.
South Africa and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) bloc have repeatedly called for peace and political reform in the country.
“The vote of no confidence motion to urge His Majesty King Letsie III to appoint Honourable Monyane Moleleki as the next prime minister has been carried,” Speaker Ntlhoi Motsamai told lawmakers after the vote.
Years of turmoil
Mosisili now has three days to either resign in favour of Moleleki or advise the king to call elections, which would be held within three months.
But Mosisili’s political advisor Fako Likoti said the premier would not step aside.
“He will continue to be the prime minister until we go for elections,” Likoti told People’s Choice FM radio.
Mosisili, who was also prime minister from 1998 to 2012, acknowledged to his supporters last weekend that he had lost lawmakers’ support and that he expected an election.
A failed coup attempt in 2014 prompted the prime minister at the time, Thomas Thabane of the All Basotho Convention (ABC), to flee to South Africa, saying he feared for his life.
In 2014, army chief Tlali Kamoli was accused of launching a coup against Thabane when soldiers attacked police headquarters, looted weapons and killed one officer.
And a senior general who was seen as close to Thabane was gunned down by soldiers in June 2015.
But Thabane returned with two other opposition leaders last month vowing to win back power, and was greeted by thousands of supporters at a rally in the capital, Maseru.
Lesotho, a constitutional monarchy, was a British protectorate known as Basutoland before independence in 1966.