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Sunday, 18 April 2010

SWAZI POLICE BAR DEMOCRAT MASUKU

Mario Masuku, President of the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), was stopped by police from attending a legally-convened meeting in Swaziland yesterday (17 April 2010).


He was among activists trying to attend a meeting of the Swaziland Democracy Campaign.


As I reported yesterday, two of the meeting’s organisers were taken in by police before the meeting started and the meeting was abandoned.


Masuku, a prominent progressive in Swaziland, last month received a democracy award from a Danish organisation. He is also known throughout the world after he was held in prison for 10 months on remand on a terrorism charge only for a judge to throw out the case hours into a trial that was expected to last several days.


The judge criticised the Swaziland Government for the way it brought a case that had no merit.


According to a report in the Times Sunday, an independent newspaper in Swaziland, police were yesterday waiting for Masuku at the Boscoe Centre, Manzini, the venue of the meeting.


The Times reports, ‘By 10am, police officers had been deployed at the centre and had an instruction not to allow Masuku to be part of the meeting.


‘When Masuku was about to enter into the hall, one of the police officers identified as Inspector Magwe stopped Masuku and told him he had been instructed to stop him from attending the meeting.


‘By then, the rest of the activists were already inside the hall singing political songs while waiting for Masuku to enter.


‘After a few minutes Vincent Ncongwane, the Swaziland United Democracy Front (SUDF) Secretary General went out to check why Masuku was not joining them only to find that he was not allowed to enter the hall.


‘Masuku tried to argue with the police officers as he explained that he was attending the meeting in his personal capacity.


‘The police would hear none of it.


‘The PUDEMO President tried to walk towards the door but was quickly stopped by officers who told him that he would not be allowed to walk in.’


The Times reports all those who attended the meeting felt there was no use in continuing with the meeting when one of their members had been banned from attending it.


A decision to suspend the meeting was taken and it was agreed that the organisers would inform all the activists about the next meeting.

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