Lesotho's new premier sworn in vowing unity

Maseru (Lesotho) (AFP) - Lesotho's new Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili was sworn in on Tuesday, admitting the tiny country faces major challenges after an alleged coup bid last year.

Mosisili, who served as premier from 1998 to 2012, returned to power as head of a fragile coalition government after elections held two years early due to the political instability.

Mosisili's Democratic Congress (DC) has formed an alliance with six smaller parties.

Lesotho held early elections last month after the collapse of another coalition government led by Motsoahae Thabane.

"I accept this responsibility fully aware of the grave challenges that continue to face our country," Mosisili, 70, said.

"(We) will successfully steer our country out of the political insecurities towards peace, harmony and prosperity," he promised.

Surrounded by South Africa, Lesotho is one of the world's poorest countries.

Its economy is heavily dependent on its neighbour, to whom it exports water and hydroelectric power.

Last August, soldiers attacked Lesotho police headquarters, looting weapons and killing one officer.

Thabane described the violence as a coup attempt fuelled by the opposition and fled to neighbouring South Africa.

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) peacekeeping mission has recently started to leave the country, with the last group expected out on Thursday.

South African President Jacob Zuma spoke at the inauguration, saying that the election gave Lesotho a chance to move beyond recent unrest.