A military coup deposes the Lesotho Government

Lesotho Flag

Wednesday, 15 January 1986

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.

• About African History A Brief History of Lesotho [online] Available at: africanhistory.about.com [Accessed on 3 December 2013]
• Fact Index Moshoeshoe II [online] Available at: www.fact-index.com [Accessed on 3 December 2013]

Last updated : 22-Feb-2019

This article was produced by South African History Online on 16-Mar-2011

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