Embattled Lesotho PM's coalition collapses

Prime Minister Thomas Thabane is accused of having a hand in the 2017 murder of his estranged wife. [AFP]

The government of Lesotho's embattled Prime Minister Thomas Thabane collapsed on Monday after his coalition partners pulled out and the formation of a new administration could take two weeks, the speaker of parliament said.

Pressure has escalated on the kingdom's 80-year-old prime minister to resign early over allegations he had a hand in the 2017 murder of his estranged wife.

Thabane's own All Basotho Convention (ABC) and two coalition parties on Monday ended their support for Thabane's four-party coalition.

"We have verified by way of reading these letters that the four-party coalition agreement has been terminated," National Assembly speaker Sephiri Motanyane said during a brief parliamentary sitting.

As per the country's constitution, the speaker will inform King Letsie III of parliament's intention to form a new government and name a new premier.

That is likely to happen on May 22, according to the ABC party.

"Thabane is now a caretaker prime minister until May 22 when a new prime minister is sworn in," ABC deputy chairman Sam Rapapa told AFP.

"A decision has been made that ...(Finance Minister Moeketsi Majoro) is the new prime minister," he said.

Thabane had announced earlier this year that he would retire by July 31 because of his old age.

But his rivals have been pushing to see him out earlier.

In an apparent show of force, Thabane in April deployed troops on to the streets of the capital Maseru for a day to "restore order", after accusing unnamed law enforcement agencies of undermining democracy.

Thabane and his previous wife Lipolelo Thabane, 58, were going through a bitter divorce when she was gunned down outside her home in the capital Maseru, just two days before her husband's inauguration in June 2017.

Police have since found Thabane's mobile number in communications records from the crime scene -- prompting rivals within the ABC to demand his immediate resignation.