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Introduction
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In the 19th Century King Moshoeshoe I brought together a number of splinter groups in this mountainous stronghold, giving birth to the Basotho nation. It was in reality a kingdom made up of refugees from the fierce tribal wars in neighboring regions. Through smart military and diplomatic strategies Moshoeshoe managed to keep his enemies at bay until he was challenged by the Dutch-descended Boers who established their own Orange Free State Republic alongside his kingdom and then started making territorial claims. War ensued that led to the defeat of the Basotho at Thaba Bosiu. Moshoeshoe was forced to cede some of his best land to the Boers. Fearing further intrusion from the Boer republic the king asked for British protection. It was annexed to the British Cape Colony in 1871 but in 1884 it was restored to direct control by the British Crown. Lesotho functioned as the so-called Basutoland Protectorate until 1966, when it regained its independence. It functioned as a multiparty democracy until 1986-most of these years under Chief Lebowa Jonathan, a descendant of Moshoeshoe-when a military regime took power. The country returned to an elective political system in 1993 as a constitutional monarchy. Recent years have seen considerable political intrigue, an abortive coup attempt and unrest that necessitated the intervention of South African and Botswana forces to maintain the status quo. These troops left in March 1999 after peace was restored. King Letsie III has ruled since the death of his father, King Moshoeshoe II, in 1996. Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili heads the government as leader of the dominant Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD).


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