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MASERU (Reuters) - Lesotho's king has dissolved parliament and will shortly set an election date, the deputy prime minister said on Tuesday, days after Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili lost a confidence vote in the assembly.
Mosisili, in power for two years, has seen his support base weakened by a slew of defections from his ruling coalition to the opposition and after the March 1 vote he was ousted as prime minister, though he remains for now in a caretaker capacity.
"We are here to announce that His Majesty has accepted the prime minister's advice to dissolve parliament and the nation will be updated on an election date within four days," Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing told state radio.
King Letsie III is a constitutional monarch who plays a mainly ceremonial role in the small landlocked country of two million people, which is entirely surrounded by South Africa.
An election must be held within three months of parliament being dissolved.
Two years ago, Mosisili's Democratic Congress (DC) ousted former prime minister Thomas Thabane's All Basotho Congress (ABC) by uniting with smaller parties.
Last week, in a reversal of roles, Thabane's ABC led a coalition of opposition parties to remove Mosisili.
Political analysts say Lesotho now faces a period of political instability. Its last two elections failed to produce a winner with a clear majority.
Lesotho's economy relies heavily on textile revenues, regional customs receipts and water piped to South Africa, making it of strategic importance to Pretoria, which has acted as a mediator during previous bouts of political turmoil.
Lesotho has suffered several coups since winning independence from Britain in 1966.
Reporting by Marafaele Mohloboli; Writing by James Macharia; Editing by Gareth Jones