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Estranged Wife of Lesotho Prime Minister-elect Shot Dead

FILE: A police officer watches as voters wait in the queue to cast their vote during national elections at Semonkong, Lesotho June 3, 2017. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko - RTX38SLR

The estranged wife of Lesotho's prime minister-elect has been shot dead, police said Thursday, raising concerns about further political instability in this tiny southern African kingdom.

Lipolelo Alice Thabane, the 58-year-old wife of Thomas Thabane, was killed Wednesday night by unknown assailants outside her home in the capital, police Senior Superintendent Clifford Molefe told The Associated Press. There have been no arrests and an investigation is in the early stages, Molefe said.

The prime minister is set to be inaugurated Friday after his party won elections earlier this month. The elections were held after Thabane's main rival, Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili, lost a no-confidence vote in parliament in March.

Lesotho has been beset by power struggles and concerns about military interference in politics. The country also has seen a number of high-profile assassinations.

Thabane is a former prime minister who fled Lesotho in 2014 out of concern that soldiers planned to assassinate him. The army has denied the allegation.

The opposition has alleged that the military is sympathetic to Mosisili's Democratic Congress party and its coalition partners and hostile to Thabane's All Basotho Convention party. The military denied any intention to intervene if Mosisili lost this month's election, the Lesotho Times newspaper has reported.

Neither Thabane nor officials with the All Basotho Convention party could immediately be reached Friday.

Lesotho's government secretary, Lebohang Ramohlanka, said plans for the inauguration continued. “As far as I know, the inauguration is still on,” Ramohlanka said.

South Africa, whose territory surrounds Lesotho, has played a leading role in mediating among factions in the mountainous nation of two million people.

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