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Three Politicians Arrested After Seizing Radio Station

February 29, 1996

MASERU, Lesotho (AP) _ Three opposition politicians seized control of a state radio studio Thursday and announced that the government had been dissolved.

The South African Press Association reported that the three men, armed with pistols, forced their way into the studio as an announcer was reading the news.

They made staff members lie face-down on the floor while one of the politicians, Matsoso Bolofo, read a list of grievances against the Lesotho government. He said the government had ruled the country unconstitutionally since democratic elections in 1993, and concluded: ``The government and parliament of Lesotho have been dissolved.″

However, there was no indication that the politicians planned or attempted an attack on the government.

Lesotho Army officers walked into the radio station and arrested the men. A large crowd of Maseru residents who had heard the broadcast gathered outside the Radio Lesotho building and watched as troops and police drove the three men away in an open truck to the central police station.

In a radio broadcast later Thursday, Prime Minister Ntsu Mokhehle appealed to his countrymen to ignore the incident ``with contempt.″

Lesotho has had a turbulent political history since gaining independence from Britain in 1966. Surrounded by and dependent upon South Africa, it was constantly beset by turbulence fueled by that country’s former white minority regime.

Relations improved dramatically after Nelson Mandela was elected South Africa’s first black president in 1994. Mandela has pledged strong support for the kingdom’s fledgling democracy.

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