WASHINGTON, Sept. 2 (UPI) -- Amid claims of a coup attempt by Lesotho's prime minister, the U.S. Department of State issued an emergency message late Monday to U.S. citizens.
"The U.S. Embassy in Maseru continues to conduct essential services, but has issued an Emergency Message to U.S. citizens advising that the Department of State has ordered the departure of non-employed family members of U.S. Mission personnel due to concerns over a possible deterioration of the security situation in Lesotho.
"The Emergency Message advises that the U.S. Embassy in Lesotho will be open September 2-3 for emergency American Citizens Services only, and that citizens should be aware the Embassy may be forced to suspend operations without advance notice if the security situation deteriorates further.
"U.S. citizens seeking assistance in departing Lesotho can contact the U.S. Embassy at USConsularMaseru@state.gov."
Prime Minister Thomas Thabane has accused the military of launching a coup, citing military elements surrounding his official home and the military's seizure of government buildings in the capital of Maseru, and fled Lesotho for South Africa.
Military spokesman Maj. Ntlele Ntoi refuted Thabane's account, insisting the military actions were taken in response to a threat from "political fanatics" the police were attempting to arm.
State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki voiced concerns Monday about both Lesotho's "political process and the state of public security" in Maseru, and called on "government officials, leaders of the Lesotho Defense Forces, and the Lesotho Mounted Police Service to respect democratic processes in line with the Lesotho Constitution and the rule of law."