Brighten their holiday. Enrich their everyday.Give The Atlantic

Lesotho Prime Minister Flees Country Over Military 'Coup,' Army Denies

Lesotho's prime minister fled the country Saturday, claiming he was the target of a military coup, but the army denies there was a coup attempt at all.

This article is from the archive of our partner .

Lesotho's Prime Minister Thomas Thabane fled the southern African country Saturday, accusing the army of attempting a military coup against him and his ministers, something the military denies.

"It is a military coup because it is led by the military. And the military are outside the instructions of the commander in chief, who is myself," Thabane told South Africa's eNCA TV by telephone from surrounding South Africa.

Gunfire was heard in the capital of Maseru and army units occupied police headquarters. The military also surrounded the prime minister's residence, according to resident accounts.

"The armed forces, the special forces of Lesotho, have taken the headquarters of the police," said Thesele Maseribane, sports minister and leader of the Basotho National Party.

"The [military] commander said he was looking for me, the prime minister and the deputy prime minister to take us to the king," said Maseribane. "In our country, that means a coup."

However, the Lesotho Defense Force denied a coup attempt, saying it was taking action against a particular group within the police force suspected of plans to arm a political faction.

"There is nothing like that, the situation has returned to normalcy ... the military has returned to their barracks," Major Ntlele Ntoi told Reuters, adding that the military "supports the democratically-elected government of the day."

Thabane appears to reject the military's explanation, telling the BBC that he will return to Lesotho, "as soon as I know I am not going to get killed."

UPDATE, 11:07 a.m.: Thabane says he will return to Lesotho and is just visiting his daughter in South Africa, not a "refugee."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.