Al Jazeera reported on Tuesday that Thabane had formally handed in his resignation to King Letsie III.
“I come before you today to announce that the work that you assigned me may not be over, but the time to retire from the great theatre of action, take leave from public life and office has finally arrived,” he said in a televised address on Tuesday.
“I plead with the entire nation and leadership to give my successor the utmost support and on my part I wish to assure him of my support at all material times,” the broadcaster quoted him as saying.
Thabane had been under immense pressure to resign following the murder of his former wife, Lipolelo Thabane. He and his current wife, Maesiah, are implicated in the murder of Lipolelo, a charge they have denied.
Lipolelo was gunned down on June 14, 2017, in Maseru two days before Thabane’s inauguration as the prime minister. The couple had been living separately since 2012 and were going through a prolonged divorce.
Two months later, Thabane married Maesiah, who is charged with Lipolelo’s murder. She is also charged with the attempted murder of Thato Sibolla, who survived the shooting.
According to media reports, Thabane is linked to Lipolelo’s murder through cell phone records. His cell phone was allegedly traced to the murder scene.
In January, Thabane announced that he would resign in July, but earlier this month he indicated that he might resign as early as June 12 if all the necessary conditions for his retirement were put in place.
“I took the decision to retire from office voluntarily despite the fact that my constitutional term is due to end in 2022. As I did indicate in January, the job of prime minister requires sensory perception as well as rapid and physical strength.
“Due to my age, I am no longer as energetic as I used to be. As such, I have decided to voluntarily vacate office and hand over the reins of government in accordance with the laws of Lesotho,” he said in a televised speech.
Finance Minister Moeketsi Majoro, 58, was expected to replace him. Among his immediate tasks as prime minister would be to pass the budget and revive the economy.
African News Agency