Lesotho's prime minister, Tom Thabane. File picture: Alexander Joe

Thomas Thabane was inaugurated as Lesotho's new prime minister on Friday in the capital Maseru, despite the murder of his first wife a day and a half earlier.

Former deputy PM Mothetjoa Metsing snubbed the ceremony. Metsing has a long-standing rivalry with Thabane and reportedly opted for a personal trip instead. Their relations turned acrid in 2014 when in Lesotho’s first short-lived coalition government, Metsing withdrew his support of the three-party pact and joined Mosisili with his Democratic Congress (DC) in opposition to destabilise and eventually cripple Thabane's administration.

The outgoing prime minister was expected to deliver a speech during the ceremony, but Pakalitha Mosisili was not included in the programme; and former communications minister and DC spokesperson Serialong Qoo supported the decision. Qoo said he didn’t want to see the repeat of 2015, when All Basotho Convention (ABC) supporters walked out while Mosisili was delivering his speech, after relinquishing power to Thabane.

“Even today was extremely embarrassing with visiting international dignitaries having to witness bishop Mallane Adam Taaso of the Anglican Church in Lesotho being heckled by the supporters of this government,” said Qoo. Taaso is suspected in the incoming government’s quarters of being sympathetic to the DC and LCD cause, and being a confidante of Metsing.

Thabane took the opportunity to publicly remark on the tragic murder of his estranged wife Lipolelo on Wednesday evening. A moment of silence was observed. Thabane indicated he was greatly perturbed by the rising statistics of murder cases in the country.

“I come to this event mourning over the death of one of my wives, and my main challenge now is to include the police service in the imminent reforms designed to restore peace and stability in this country,” he said.