Security tight in Eswatini on protest anniversary

Security tight in Eswatini on protest anniversary

King Mswati III is Africa's last absolute monarch
King Mswati III is Africa's last absolute monarch. Photo: GULSHAN KHAN / AFP
Source: AFP

Police and troops deployed in force in Eswatini's major cities on Wednesday on the anniversary of the start of bloody pro-democracy protests in the tiny kingdom.

Security forces patrolled throughout the night in the capital Mbabane and the city of Manzini 40 kilometres (25 miles) away as helicopters flew constantly overhead, local residents said.

Many stores were shuttered and the streets were virtually empty, while public transport was at a standstill, AFP reporters saw.

There was no sign of any incident but witnesses said some streets in outlying districts had been barricaded and they had seen burning tyres, after campaign groups called for a commemoration of the anniversary.

Demonstrations in the southern African monarchy broke out on June 29, 2021, led by young people clamouring for democratic reform.

Eight people died in clashes with the security forces, initiating protests over the following months that have since become sporadic.

Read also

Senegal bars new demo ahead of tense poll

PAY ATTENTION: Share your outstanding story with our editors! Please reach us through!

According to the authorities, 37 people have died, while Human Rights Watch (HRW) puts the toll at 46.

Eswatini, previously known as Swaziland, is Africa's last absolute monarchy.

King Mswati III, who ascended to the throne in 1986 at the age of 18, appoints ministers and controls parliament under a convoluted electoral system. Political parties have been banned for nearly half a century.

Mswati has been widely criticised for his lifestyle, reputedly lavishing his 15 wives with millions of dollars a year while nearly 60 percent of the population of 1.2 million live on less than $1.90 a day.

Source: AFP

AFP avatar

AFP AFP text, photo, graphic, audio or video material shall not be published, broadcast, rewritten for broadcast or publication or redistributed directly or indirectly in any medium. AFP news material may not be stored in whole or in part in a computer or otherwise except for personal and non-commercial use. AFP will not be held liable for any delays, inaccuracies, errors or omissions in any AFP news material or in transmission or delivery of all or any part thereof or for any damages whatsoever. As a newswire service, AFP does not obtain releases from subjects, individuals, groups or entities contained in its photographs, videos, graphics or quoted in its texts. Further, no clearance is obtained from the owners of any trademarks or copyrighted materials whose marks and materials are included in AFP material. Therefore you will be solely responsible for obtaining any and all necessary releases from whatever individuals and/or entities necessary for any uses of AFP material.