Radio stations briefly jammed in Lesotho amid attempted coup

On August 30, 2014, the Lesotho military took control of police headquarters, jammed radio and television stations as well as telephone lines, and handed control of the tiny landlocked country to its deputy prime minister, according to news reports. Prime Minister Thomas Thabane fled to safety in South Africa for four days.

Only one station, Lesotho Catholic Radio FM, was not jammed, according to a committee member from the Journalist Union of Lesotho Marafaele Mohloboli. She told CPJ that by the middle of the day on August 30, 2014, all radio and television stations were back on the air. Mohloboli also told CPJ that one journalist had been threatened and accused of favoring opposition parties by giving them additional air time.

The political crisis arose from tensions within the unity government, which came to power following elections in May 2012. The deputy prime minister threatened to pull his Lesotho Congress of Democracy from the ruling coalition, which likely would have precipitated a government collapse. In an effort to avoid this, Prime Minister Thabane suspended parliament in June. The South African government was brokering talks between the rival parties, according to news reports.

News reports said that the army denied it had staged a coup.