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Lesotho Coup, 1970

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0101 ICS 46
Held at: Institute of Commonwealth Studies
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Full title: Lesotho Coup, 1970
Date(s): 1970
Level of description: Collection (Fonds)
Extent: 1 box
Name of creator(s): Leeman | Bernard | fl 1970
Detailed catalogue: Click here to view repository detailed catalogue


Administrative/Biographical history:

Lesotho, formerly known as Basutoland, became a British Protectorate in 1868. It was annexed to Cape Colony in 1871, but became a separate British Colony in 1884, and was administered as one of the High Commission Territories in Southern Africa (the others being Bechuanaland , now Botswana, and Swaziland). Modern party politics began in 1952 with the founding of the Basutoland Congress Party (BCP, renamed the Basotho Congress Party in 1966) by Dr Ntsu Mokhehle. At the first general election in 1965 the majority of seats in the new legislative assembly were won by the Basutoland National Party (BNP, renamed Basotho National Party in 1966), a conservative group, which had the support of the South African government. Following the election, Moshoeeshoe II, the paramount chief, was recognised as king. The BNP leader, Chief Leabua Jonathan, becamer Prime Minister. Basutoland became independent, as the Kingdom of Lesotho in October 1966. A General election was held in January 1970, when the opposition BCP appeared to have won a majority of seats in the National Assembly. Chief Jonathan declared a state of emergency, suspended the constutution and arrested Dr Mokhehle and other leaders of the BNP. The election was anulled and the county effectively passed under the Prime Minister's control. In Jan 1974 Chief Jonathan survived a coup attempt but he was deposed by the military, led by Maj Gen Justin Metsino Lekhanya in Jan 1986.


Scope and content/abstract:

Correspondence and papers of Bernard Leeman on planned coup against the Prime Minister of Lesotho, Chief Leabua Jonathan, July-Oct 1970. Including correspondence with the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), the Basotho Congress Party (BCP), notes on arms supplies and the activities of the South African Political Police.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:


Conditions governing access:

Open although advance notice should be given. Access to individual items may be restricted under the Data Protection Act or the Freedom of Information Act.

Conditions governing reproduction:

A photocopying service is available at the discretion of the Library staff. Copies are supplied solely for research and private study. Requests to publish original material should be submitted to the Information Resources Manager.

Finding aids:

Catalogued to item level (see link to repository catalogue).

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Deposited at ICS by Bernard Leeman, date unknown.

Allied Materials

Related material:

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Compiled by Alan Kucia as part of the RSLP AIM25 Project.

Rules or conventions:
General International Standard Archival Description ISAD(G), 2nd edition, 2000. National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
Oct 2001

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