MASERU (Reuters) - Lesotho's former deputy prime minister Mothetjoa Metsing has called for a national unity government, saying a broader coalition deal would ensure stability after last week's election failed to produce an outright winner.
Lesotho, which has been on a political knife-edge since an attempted coup in 2014, held elections last week, the third in five years, after Pakalitha Mosisili, with whom Metsing had been in a coalition government, lost a no-confidence vote as prime minister in March.
Mosisili admitted defeat on Friday to his opponent Thomas Thabane, whose All Basotho Convention (ABC) emerged as the winner of 48 parliamentary seats but short of the 61 needed to form a government.
"There is no need for the removal of the existing government in office as we all agree that in order for Lesotho to be stable there is a need for a government of national unity," Metsing told a news conference late on Friday.
Thabane has said his ABC party would form a coalition government with three other parties: Alliance Democrats, Basotho National Party and the Reformed Congress of Lesotho.
The outcome reverses the result of an election two years ago, when Mosisili ousted Thabane by teaming up with Metsing and other smaller parties.
Lesotho, a nation of two million people, has been hit by several coups since gaining independence from Britain in 1966 and its last two elections failed to produce a winner with a clear majority.
Thabane, who governed from 2012 until 2015, and other opposition leaders, fled the country to South Africa in 2015 after an assassination attempt.
Apart from textile exports and regional customs receipts, Lesotho's other big earner is water, piped to South Africa.
Reporting by Marafaele Mohloboli; Editing by Andrew Bolton