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Retired General Justin Metsing Lekhanya (born April 7, 1938 in Thaba-Tseka, Lesotho) was the prime minister, defense minister and chairman of the military council of Lesotho from 24 January 1986 until 2 May 1991. Lekhanya was commander of the army when he overthrew Prime Minister Leabua Jonathan in a military coup following revelations that he had been the victim of a hoax by two Pan-Africanist Congress military commanders exiled from South Africa, Potlako Leballo and Bernard Leeman. They had served Lekhanya as a Lesotho Paramilitary Force Major in 1977 under a false identity. The hoax had resulted in Lekhanya financing the Lesotho Liberation Army against himself. Lekhanya immediately sought to improve relations with South Africa, which were strained due to Jonathan's support of the African National Congress. Lekhanya also gave more power to Lesotho's king at first, but later came into dispute with him, and he deposed the king in another military coup in 1990. The king was later restored, and himself was overthrown in a 1991 military coup. Lekhanya then became leader of the Basotho National Party (BNP), Lesotho's main opposition party, which only has a few seats in Parliament and, according to Lekhanya, has been the victim of fraud in the last several elections in Lesotho. Lekhanya was elected as Party Leader of the BNP at its Conference in March 1999,[1] and he was re-elected as Party Leader at the BNP Conference held on March 31–April 1, 2001.[2] In the May 2002 parliamentary election, Lekhanya, the BNP candidate for the Mant'sonyane constituency, was defeated by Masuthang Taole of the ruling Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD), receiving 28.5% of the vote against Taole's 49.1%.[3] He was, however, elected to the National Assembly through proportional representation.[4]

On May 31, 2006, he was temporarily suspended from the National Assembly in connection with alleged intimidation of the Speaker of the National Assembly, which the BNP leadership was said to have condoned and abetted, according to a motion of the National Assembly and a subsequent report from the Committee of Privileges. Four other MPs from the BNP were also suspended, but for lesser periods of time.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Committee of Privileges Reports to Parliament; Opposition MP Bereng Sekhonyana Murdered", Summary of Events in Lesotho - 2nd Quarter 2006,
  2. "BNP Conference Confirms Lekhanya as Leader", Summary of Events in Lesotho - 2nd Quarter 2001,
  3. "Individual Constituency Results Range from Clear Victories to Minority Votes", Summary of Events in Lesotho - 2nd quarter 2002,
  4. List of members of the National Assembly (2006 archive page), Lesotho Parliament website.

Further readingEdit

  • Leeman, B.N.T. "Lesole la Mokhehle" (Soldier for Mokhehle) University of Azania Press 1993, 2nd edition 2002
  • Leeman, B.N.T. "Lesotho and the Struggle for Azania 1780–1986" University of Azania 1986 (Doctrinal thesis Bremen University, Germany)
  • Leeman, B.N.T. (1995) The Pan Africanist Congress of Azania "Africa Today", Australian National University
  • Leeman, B.N.T. (2011) The Lesotho Liberation Army
  • Mphanya, Ntsukunyane (2004) "A Brief History of the Basutoland Congress Party" Morija, Lesotho
Preceded by
Leabua Jonathan
Chairman of the Military Council
Succeeded by
Elias Phisoana Ramaema

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