Lesotho military strike in possible coup attempt


File: Photo of members of the Lesotho military, which seized control of the tiny African kingdom's police headquarters and jammed radio stations and phones in the early hours Saturday, a government minister and member of the ruling coalition says.

MASERU - Military units in Lesotho surrounded government and police buildings and gunfire was heard in the small mountainous southern African kingdom on Saturday, in what diplomats said appeared to be an attempted coup.

"Military police have surrounded State House and there are reports of gunfire," said one diplomat from the capital, Maseru, who asked not to be named.

It&39;s believed the military also seized control of a radio station in Ha-Mabote and took it off air.

The unrest comes a day after police banned an anti-government protest that was planned for Monday.

There&39;s been no immediate confirmation on the whereabouts of Prime Minister Thomas Thabane.

Earlier this month, Thabane defended his decision to issue members of the Gupta family with diplomatic passports and rejected opposition demands to withdraw them. This, after he appointed Atul Gupta as a "special advisor".

He said he appointed the Gupta family to market Lesotho in countries where they have “influence”, and to secure investments for the country, the Star reported on Monday.

“These people (the Guptas) are good friends of the ANC and we have good relations with the ANC,” he told The Star’s Foreign Service.

“I was introduced to them by ANC president [Jacob Zuma] and other ANC officials… I then appointed them to help scout for investment in my country. They have influence in a number of countries that can help Lesotho.”

Meanwhile, in June, the South African government said it was monitoring the country closely after concerns were expressed over an increase in military presence in Maseru.

At the time, Department of International Relations (Dirco) Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said South Africa would not be sending troops to the country, but would be observing the situation and would respond accordingly.

On Saturday, Dirco spokesman Clayson Monyela tweeted that a media briefing would be held regarding the current situation in Lesotho.

eNCA will follow this developing story as it unfolds.


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