On 15 January 1986, General Justin Lekhanya, the Head of the Lesotho Army, ousted Lesotho prime minister Chief Leabua Jonathan in a military coup. Jonathan had been prime minister since 1966 and gained executive political control over Lesotho when the king's power was limited in 1970.
Lekhanya announced that all executive and legislative powers would be returned to King Moshoeshoe II , who would rule through a military council chaired by Lekhanya. South Africa denied playing any part in the coup, but lifted the border blockade that had been imposed against Lesotho in early January 1986. Furthermore, 60 members of the African National Congress (ANC) were deported from Lesotho to Zambia after the coup.
By February 1990, a power struggle had developed between Lekhanya and King Moshoeshoe II and the king was forced to go into exile in the United Kingdom. His son, Letsie III, was crowned king later the same month, but was seen as a puppet of Lakhanya.
In April 1991, Lekhanya was removed from power in a military coup led by Colonel Elias Tutsoane Ramaema. Ramaema announced a schedule for Lesotho's return to democracy. All political parties were soon allowed to operate in the country and Moshoeshoe returned from exile in July 1992, though not as monarch, but as a tribal chief. Democracy was restored in 1993.
Donate and Make African History Matter
South African History Online is a non profit organisation. We depend on public support to build our website into the most comprehensive educational resource and encyclopaedia on African history.
Your support will help us to build and maintain partnerships with educational institutions in order to strengthen teaching, research and free access to our content.