Swaziland police stopped a political rally of the African United Democratic Party (AUDP) from taking place at the weekend.
About 80 officers massed to prevent about 12 AUDP supporters from meeting at Mhlaleni on Saturday (25 February 2012).
A standoff between police and AUDP supporters took place in the morning, but as soon as the AUDP started singing the South African national anthem and struggle song, ‘Nkosi Sikelela’i Africa’, police moved in to break up the rally and took away the protestors.
Police forced the rally to disperse and confiscated a banner belonging to the political party. All political parties are banned in Swaziland, ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. Marches and rallies are banned without the permission of King Mswati’s authorities.
The rally had been arranged to call for the registration of political parties ahead of the Swazi national elections in 2013.
The Times of Swaziland, the kingdom’s only independent daily newspaper, reported that Sibusiso Dlamini, the AUDP Secretary General, confronted the police saying they were acting unconstitutionally and that the protestors had the right to freedom of assembly.