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Lesotho first lady 'agreed divorce' before murder

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Lesotho's Prime Minister Thomas Thabane. Photo: REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

Lesotho's Prime Minister Thomas Thabane. Photo: REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

Lesotho's Prime Minister Thomas Thabane. Photo: REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

Lesotho's first lady had apparently agreed to divorce the nation's prime minister at a mediation just hours before she was shot dead, it emerged yesterday, in the latest twist to a murder mystery that has brought international attention to the tiny southern African country.

Gunmen ambushed Lipolelo Thabane (58) in her car as she made her way home after a mediation meeting on the outskirts of the capital Maseru in June 2017. She was shot several times.

Her husband, Thomas Thabane, was sworn in for a second term as premier just two days later. He remarried Maesaiah Liabiloe Ramoholi two months afterwards.

Police charged Maesaiah Thabane with murder in February and named Mr Thabane, now 80, as a suspect, although he has not been charged. They both deny any involvement.

Mr Thabane's government is trying to force him from office before the end of July, when he said he was willing to step down.

Lipolelo Thabane was the prime minister's second wife.

In 2012, after 25 years of marriage, she refused to agree to a divorce and won a court battle to retain her first lady privileges until a separation.

According to a close friend and a well-connected businessman, Lipolelo Thabane had been in fear of her life but had agreed to a mediation meeting on the day she died.

"She said: 'I am ready to free him'," the mediator told Reuters. "I just want to be looked after'."

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