|5th Prime Minister of Lesotho|
16 June 2017
|Preceded by||Pakalitha Mosisili|
3 September 2014 – 30 March 2015
|Preceded by||Mothetjoa Metsing (Acting)|
|Succeeded by||Pakalitha Mosisili|
8 June 2012 – 30 August 2014
|Preceded by||Pakalitha Mosisili|
|Succeeded by||Mothetjoa Metsing (Acting)|
|lesotho prime minister|
|Born||(1939-05-28) 28 May 1939
Maseru, Basutoland (now Lesotho)
|Political party||Congress for Democracy (Before 2006)
All Basotho Convention (2006–present)
|Education||University of South Africa (BA)|
Thomas Motsoahae “Tom” Thabane is a Mosotho politician who has been Prime Minister of Lesotho since June 2017. Previously he was Prime Minister from June 2012 to March 2015. He is leader of the All Basotho Convention (ABC) political party.
Thabane served in the government of Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili from 1998 to 2006, and at the time, was a member of the ruling Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD), but in 2006 he split from the LCD and launched the ABC. After more than five years in opposition, he built a coalition of 12 parties in the wake of the May 2012 parliamentary election and was appointed Prime Minister.
In the February 2015 parliamentary election, the All Basotho Convention was democratically removed from power by a seven-party coalition led by his rival and predecessor, Pakalitha Mosisili, although the ABC did win the highest number of constituencies. Two months later, Thabane fled to South Africa with two other opposition leaders, claiming that their lives were in danger. They returned to Lesotho on 12 February 2017 in order to participate in a parliamentary vote of no confidence that unseated Prime Minister Mosisili.
Thabane served as Principal Secretary for Health under Leabua Jonathan, the second Prime Minister of Lesotho, until the military overthrew Jonathan in 1986. Thabane then served with the military regime under General Justin Lekhanya until 1991. He was Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1990 to 1991.
Thabane became an advisor to Prime Minister Ntsu Mokhehle in early 1995. He subsequently served again as Foreign Minister in Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili’s LCD government from June 1998 until June 2002. Thabane was appointed as Minister of Home Affairs and Public Safety in June 2002 and as Minister of Communications, Science and Technology in November 2004.
Thabane resigned from the government on October 9, 2006, and formed a new party, the All Basotho Convention (ABC). Thabane claimed that his will was to unite all Basotho, not only those from the Congress party or National Party. Some believed that the formation of the ABC was the beginning of a new political light that could lead Lesotho to economic development. It was believed by his supporters that if Thabane became prime minister, he would try to draw new policies that would bring a broader understanding of approach to changing Lesotho’s declining hope in the global market.
The vote was free, but not fair
18 MPs crossed the floor to join the ABC in opposition on October 13, 2006;[ 17 of these (including Thabane) had been LCD members, while the remaining MP was an independent. Thabane’s party thus became the third largest party in Parliament. The ruling party was left with 61 of the 120 parliamentary seats; with such a precarious majority, Mosisili requested the dissolution of Parliament, and an early election was called for February 2007. In the election, the ABC took 17 out of 80 constituency seats, while the LCD took 61. Thabane said that the vote was free, but not fair.
An extended dispute followed the 2007 election regarding the allocation of the seats based on proportional representation. Five opposition parties called for the Speaker of Parliament to designate Thabane as Leader of the Opposition in March 2007, but the Speaker rejected this on the grounds that the agreement made by the opposition parties was not legitimate. National Independent Party leader Dominic Motikoe was instead designated as the Leader of the Opposition, despite leading a party that was allied to the LCD.
On June 14, 2007, an assassination attempt on Thabane allegedly occurred, with gunmen firing outside his home. Several other incidents of political violence occurred at around the same time, and an indefinite curfew was imposed; it was lifted later in the month. Thabane was critical of the curfew and accused the police of being excessively harsh in enforcing it.
The LCD’s reluctance to engage in talks regarding the political situation prompted Thabane on October 18, 2007 to threaten street protests to pressure the government into holding a new election “if they continue to fail to co-operate”.
After an April 22, 2009 assault on Mosisili’s residence, which was believed to have been a failed attempt to kill Mosisili, police said that retired officer Makotoko Lerotholi, a bodyguard of Thabane, was suspected of involvement in the attack. Thabane condemned the government for placing blame on the opposition, describing it as “treachery”.
Tom Thabane fled to South Africa on August 30, 2014, alleging that the military was attempting to take power and wanted to kill him. He said that he would go back to Lesotho only if he felt his life was not in danger. The military denied the allegations. He returned to Lesotho on 3 September 2014 under the protection of South African police.
His party failed to attain a majority in the 2015 snap election and was unsuccessful in forming a coalition government.
In an interview on the South African Broadcasting Corporation, Tom Thabane stated that this would be his last term in parliament. He cited Nelson Mandela as an example of leaders who voluntarily left office.
Following the opposition’s boycott of parliament in June 2015 to protest the government’s alleged disinterest in investigating circumstances surrounding Brigadier-General Maaparankoe Mahao’s death, Tom Thabane and two other opposition party leaders left for South Africa and did not attend any parliamentary sittings, citing security issues and instability in the country. On 12 February 2017 they returned to Lesotho, declaring that Prime Minister Mosisili no longer commanded a parliamentary majority and vowing to oust him in a vote of no confidence. Thabane claimed that he was risking his life by returning.
Mosisili was defeated in the vote of no confidence, leading to a new election in June 2017. The ABC won the most seats, and with its allies it was able to command a majority. Tom Thabane was sworn in as Prime Minister on 16 June 2017.
Thabane was married to Lipolelo Thabane, who filed for divorce from him in 2012. On June 14, 2017, Lipolelo Thabane was shot dead in Masana, outside of Maseru.
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