Lesotho’s former prime minster Thomas Thabane, 78, is running for the top job again after returning from exile in neighbouring South Africa.
Speaking on Sunday at a rally in Maseru, the capital of the landlocked nation of two million people, Thabane told followers of his All Basotho Convention party he has “no intention of taking revenge” if he wins the election on Saturday.
“The only revenge is for all of you here to go and vote this caretaker prime minster out on June 3,” said Thabane, who fled to South Africa after he lost an election in early 2015. He says he left the country after hearing of an alleged plot to kill him.
Thabane returned to Lesotho in February, telling media at the time: “I am taking a huge risk by going back to Lesotho. The threat on my life is still there.”
The poll will be Lesotho’s third general election in five years. Political instability has been exacerbated by a rogue army leader, who recently stepped down after pressure was exerted by the Southern African Development Community, a regional bloc.
An alleged coup attempt in 2014 led to the 2015 election, which Thabane narrowly lost to Democratic Congress leader Pakalitha Mosisili.
Mosisili, 72, has struggled to hold together an unwieldy seven-party coalition government since becoming prime minister. He called Saturday’s election after losing a parliamentary no-confidence vote in March, two years into his five year term.
Complicating matters further, local media reported on speculation that the army is planning a coup if the current government is not returned. The Lesotho Defence Force denies the claim.
Lesotho has seen a number of military coups since gaining independence from the British in 1966.
Top photo: former Lesotho prime minister Tom Thabane and his wife ‘Malsaiah. Taken by Justice Kalebe