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Lesotho History Timeline

1800s
  • (1822) Present-day Lesotho emerged as a single polity under King Moshoeshoe I and was called Basutoland
  • (1834) Decades of conflict initiated after a territorial encroachment by Boer trekkers
  • (1868) Basutoland is established as a British protectorate
  • (1870) The death of King Moshoeshoe signaled the end of the traditional era of Basutoland and the beginning of the colonial era
  • (1871) Basutoland was transferred to the Cape Colony
  • (1881) Conflicts triggered the 'Gun War' between Basotho chiefs and Cape Colony forces over the right for natives to bear arms
  • (1884) Basutoland's status was restored to that of a protectorate but remained under the direct rule of a governor with internal power being wielded by traditional chiefs
1900s
  • (1966) Basutoland gained independence and became the Kingdom of Lesotho; Moshoeshoe II is named king with Chief Leabua Jonathan as prime minister
  • (1970) Chief Jonathan suspended the constitution following election results in the oppositional favor and sent the king into temporary exile
  • (1986) Chief Jonathan deposed of in a coup and is replaced by Major-General Justin Lekhanya
  • (1990) King Moshoeshoe II is exiled and his son, Letsie III, is sworn in
  • (1991) Lekhanya is forced out by Colonel Elias Tutsoane Ramaema
  • (1992) Moshoeshoe II returned from exile as an ordinary citizen
  • (1994) A military-backed coup staged by Letsie III ousted the government
  • (1995) Moshoeshoe II restored to the throne, but died in a car crash; Letsie III restored as king
  • (1997) The Lesotho Congress of Democrats (LCD) is formed by Ntsu Mokhehle
  • (1998) LCD won general elections with Pakalitha Mosisili as prime minister; oppositional protests sparked rioting causing the South African Development Community to send military forces to restore order; the Multiparty Interim Political Authority is established to review electoral processes for future elections
2000s
  • (2002) LCD won parliamentary elections held under the new system; Prime Minister Mosisili sworn-in for second 5-year term
  • (2004) State of emergency declared after a three-year struggle against drought caused food shortages
  • (2004) The first phase of the multi-billion dollar Lesotho Highlands Water Project opened supplying water to South Africa
  • (2007) Leaders of the opposition challenged the outcome of early parliamentary elections after the ruling LCD won
  • (2007) Lesotho affected by its most severe drought in 30 years
  • (2009) Prime Minister Mosisili survived apparent assassination attempt
  • (2012) Thomas Thabane elected prime minister
  • (2014) The parliament has been suspended amidst coup fears (June)

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This page was last updated on April 7, 2017.