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UPDATE: Lesotho elected leader's wife shot dead before his inauguration

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Lesotho prime minister-elect Thomas Motsoahae Thabane's second wife Lipolelo Alice Thabane was shot dead around 7pm on Wednesday.

She was on her way to her residential home in Ha 'Masana, on the outskirts of Maseru, the capital town.

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Lesotho's elected prime minister Thomas Thabane. (Photo: Denvor de Wee/Visual Buzz SA)

Lipolelo Thabane is alleged to have been attacked while driving home with one Thato Sibolla, who works for the Ministry of Justice and Correctional Services.

Thabane's daughter, advocate Nkoya Thabane, confirmed the death to African Independent an hour after the fatal shooting.

Asked if it was true that Lipolelo Thabane (58) was shot dead, without giving much detail as it was still fresh, advocate Thabane confirmed "I am going there now. Yes she was shot dead."

The shooting comes shortly before the inauguration of her husband Thomas Thabane as Lesotho's new prime minister, following the collapse of the second coalition government made of seven congress parties led by Pakalitha Mosisili.

Samonyane Ntsekele, the secretary general of Thabane's All Basotho Convention party, said the prime minister-elect was devastated by the shooting. "Yes it is true that Mrs Lipolelo was shot dead last night… Everyone is traumatised by these developments," he said.

Thabane is due to replace Pakalitha Mosisili, prime minister since 2015, after forming a coalition with three other parties following elections earlier this month that handed his party most seats in parliament.

He and Lipolelo are understood to have been embroiled in a bitter divorce dispute. Lipolelo reportedly won a court case against Thabane during his first stint as prime minister affirming her position as Lesotho's first lady instead of Thabane's youngest wife, Liabiloe Thabane.

A police source said that Lipolelo had been driving with a friend when they spotted a man walking down the road. "The suspect pulled out the gun and opened fire on them. Lipolelo died on the spot while the other woman is fighting for her life in hospital," he said.

Police spokesman Clifford Molefe confirmed there had been a shooting but said it was too early to name the deceased or her family.

Ntsekele said it was too early to know if the shooting would affect Thabane's inauguration.

But Ronnie Mamoepa, spokesman for South African deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa who has played a key mediation role in Lesotho, told broadcaster SABC he hoped the ceremony would go ahead as planned.

Thabane is due to be sworn in at the Setsoto stadium in Maseru, marking the impoverished country's third attempt at a coalition government. Both of the previous joint administrations have collapsed.

Lesotho has a long history of political instability having suffered coups in 1986 and 1991. The small kingdom was plunged into crisis in 2014 when soldiers attempted to oust Thabane during his previous stint as prime minister.

Thabane fled to South Africa, where he spent two years, while the regional bloc SADC stepped in to end the crisis. Early elections took place in 2015. – Additional news from AFP

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