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Saturday, September 12, 1998 Published at 14:28 GMT 15:28 UK

World: Africa

Lesotho army chief 'resigns'

National radio in Lesotho has reported that the army commander, Lieutenant-General Makhula Mosakheng, has resigned with about 20 other officers.

The radio said it was an "internal military affair" but diplomatic sources say General Mosakheng is under house arrest.

The head of the defence force reportedly left on Friday after a day of turmoil caused by ongoing protests at the kingdom's election results last May.

Opposition supporters had camped in the grounds of the palace of King Letsie and the army has had a collective crisis of conscience over how to deal with them.

Junior army officers were reported to have held two dozen of their senior commanders against their will, objecting to a policy of tough action against the protesters.

The subsequent resignation of the general and national radio appeals for calm led to concern that a military coup was under way.

The Foreign Minister, Tom Thabane, told a news agency by telephone that the army was not fully under control.

Election controversy

Tension has been growing in land-locked Lesotho for several weeks as a report into alleged fraud during the elections awaits publication.

The report has been completed but its delayed publication is reportedly causing anger among opposition parties and their supporters.

The party of the incumbent Prime Minister, Pakalitha Mosisili, the Lesotho Congress for Democracy, won 79 out of 80 seats, but there have been continued protests about the fairness of the result.

Lesotho's army is apparently split in its view of the election and there have been claims that it was rigged in favour of the ruling party.

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