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Lesotho PM fails to appear for murder charge on medical grounds

(FILES) In this file photo taken on August 19, 2017 Prime Minister of Lesotho, Thomas Motsoahae Thabane is seated at the Opening Session of the 37th Southern African Development Community (SADC) Summit of Heads of State and Government at the OR Tambo Building in Pretoria. – Lesotho Prime Minister Thomas Thabane, who was due to be charged with the murder of his estranged wife, failed to appear in court on medical grounds on February 21, 2020. (Photo by GULSHAN KHAN / AFP)

Lesotho Prime Minister Thomas Thabane, who was due to be charged with the murder of his estranged wife, failed to appear in court on Friday on medical grounds, an aide said.

“He is not attending court, he has gone for a medical check-up in South Africa,” his personal secretary Thabo Thakalekoala told AFP, adding it is a “routine” medical check.

Thabane left the mountainous kingdom of Lesotho on Thursday, the same day that police announced he was due Friday to appear before a magistrate for murder charges to be formally read out to him.

Earlier on Friday the PM had announced on the state broadcaster that he would quit office by the end of July due to old age.

The 80-year-old is accused of having acted “in common purpose” in the June 2017 killing by unknown assailants of Lilopelo Thabane, 58, then his wife.

The killing occurred two days before the premier took the oath of office following elections.

His current wife Maesaiah Thabane, 42, who he married two months after Lipolelo’s death, has also been charged with the same murder of her rival.

The death shook the landlocked kingdom of Lesotho, which is entirely surrounded by South Africa.

In his inaugural speech, Thabane described his wife’s murder as a “senseless killing”.

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