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New King of Lesotho to Take Oath Feb. 7

February 2, 1996

MASERU, Lesotho (AP) _ The new king of this tiny mountainous nation will take the oath of office Feb. 7 and replace his father on the throne for the second time, Radio Lesotho announced Thursday.

Crown Prince David Mohato Bereng Seeiso, 32, will rule under the name Letsie III, the same name he adopted when placed, largely against his will, on the throne in 1989 by a military coup. He will have only ceremonial powers.

Letsie backed a palace coup in 1994 to restore his deposed father, Moshoeshoe II. Under a deal brokered by South Africa, Moshoeshoe returned to the throne in January 1995.

Moshoeshoe was killed in a car accident Jan. 15. In his year back in office, he eased tensions between the army and Prime Minister Ntsu Mokhele’s government, elected in the nation’s first democratic vote in 1993.

One of Africa’s last traditional kingdoms, Lesotho is surrounded by and dependent upon South Africa. It was constantly beset by turbulence fueled by South Africa’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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