Lesotho History

The origins of the current state date back to the beginning of the century. XIX when Moshoeshoe, an Ngoni chief, gathered in this naturally well defended area the remains of Bantu tribes threatened by Zulu pressure. Towards the middle of the century, advised by French Protestant missionaries, Moshoeshoe placed himself under British protection to escape the threat of an invasion by the Boers. Established as a protectorate in 1868, Lesotho, then Basutoland, was annexed to the Cape Colony from 1871 to 1884 when it returned to the dependence of Great Britain and remained in this position until 1966 when it obtained full sovereignty (in 1965 it had obtained internal autonomy). The country, governed by a constitutional monarchical regime, had the two highest authorities in King Moshoeshoe II and Prime Minister Leabua Jonathan. Jonathan practiced a policy similar to that of South Africa, carrying out repressions against political refugees coming from there, and came into conflict with the king who as early as December 1966 was forced to live in a palace and was deprived of many of his duties. Defeated in the 1970 elections, the prime minister canceled the elections, suspended the constitution and forced the king to exile until December of the same year. The king was recalled to his homeland by popular will, but his power remained purely symbolic. Only in 1973 was the state of emergency abolished, while the frequent internal turmoil of the following years was severely repressed by Prime Minister Jonathan. Beginning in 1980, Lesotho was accused by neighboring South Africa of offering asylum to black militants of the ANC (African National Congress), movement for the emancipation of blacks and against racial segregation: Pretoria therefore suspended trade with Maseru, putting the already faltering economy of the small African kingdom in difficulty. In January 1986, old Jonathan was overthrown by General Justin Lekhanya, head of a paramilitary force of 1,500 men. The inspirer of the coup was King Moshoeshoe II, opposed to the policy of expulsion from South Africa pursued by the previous government.

According to remzfamily, the Constitution was suspended, political parties were banned and, also following the expulsion of refugees belonging to the ANC, relations with the neighboring state soon normalized. In 1990 there were signs of instability at the top of power: Letsie III marked a marked deterioration in political relations; the election of a new Constituent Assembly brought no improvement. On April 30, 1991, Colonel E. Phisoana Ramaema, a member of the Military Council, carried out a new coup, dismissing Lekhanya. At the same time as the development of the d├ętente process that in the neighboring Republic led to the dismantling of apartheid, Ramaema, initiated a phase of normalization of Lesotho by setting free elections for March 1993. The close confrontation between the Basotho Congress Party (BCP) and the Basotho National Party (BNP), supported by the military, was resolved to the advantage of the former ( March 1993) which won a large majority. The new government chaired by Ntsu Mokhehle was, however, disliked by the military, who hindered its activity by attempting on several occasions to organize new coups in one of which the deputy prime minister also lost his life (April 1994). Seizing the opportunity of evident instability, Letsie III removed the inconvenient premier and dissolved Parliament (August), but soon had to retrace his steps and reinstate N. Mokhehle due to internal mobilization and pressure from South Africa. The attempted coup of force cost the sovereign dearly, who lost the throne again occupied by his father Moshoeshoe II (January 1995). But the signal that a full normalization of political life was still a long way off came after just a year, when Moshoeshoe II lost his life in a mysterious car accident and his son resettled as the next monarch of the country. Other signs of instability manifested themselves in 1998: the results of the political elections, won by the Lesotho Democratic Congress Party (LCD) which placed leader Pakalitha Mosisili (Mokhehle’s successor) as head of the government, were violently contested by the opposition and by some army officers who denounced the presence of fraud.

The government, feeling it was losing control of the country, asked for the intervention of the members of the SADC and troops, mainly South African, invaded the kingdom meeting strenuous opposition. In a climate of profound uncertainty, an agreement was reached for the calling of new elections, postponed several times, which finally in May 2002 were held without dispute and reconfirmed the majority of seats in the LCD, the Mosisili party that obtained the second term as the first minister. After five years of relative tranquility, the 2007 elections, which saw Mosisili and the LCD reconfirmed at the helm of the country, however, again aroused protests from the opposition who contested the result. In 2012, despite the LCD’s victory in the legislative elections, the opposition parties decided to form a new government.

Lesotho History

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