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King of Lesotho Marries S. African

February 18, 2000 GMT

MASERU, Lesotho (AP) _ With Nelson Mandela and other African statesmen looking on, Lesotho’s King Letsie III married a 23-year-old South African woman Friday.

Some 6,000 people filled a stadium to watch Letsie marry Karabo Motsoeneng, soothing ending fretting about when the 38-year-old king would finally settle down.

The presidents of Botswana, Malawi and Mozambique joined Mandela and former Zambian President Kenneth Kaunda at the ceremony.

Thousands jammed the streets, and inside the stadium citizens sang hymns in the Basotho language.


Letsie functions as a ceremonial head of state in this poor, Belgium-sized country of 2.1 million people that is surrounded by South Africa. The nation’s politics have been paralyzed since South African and Botswanan troops invaded in 1998 to dislodge opposition protesters from the royal palace and quell an army revolt after a disputed election.

Letsie has made light of his bachelor status in the past, appealing to African leaders at a summit in 1997, the year after his coronation, to help him find a bride.

``My dear mother has started to get worried. Sometimes I worry and feel quite jealous seeing other leaders get partners with such ease,″ he said, in an apparent reference to King Mswati III of nearby Swaziland who has eight wives.