Armed police in Swaziland have cordoned off the venue for a scheduled public debate on democracy in the kingdom to prevent it taking place.
Earlier today (12 April 2013), police, acting without a court order, told organisers the meeting could not take place because it ‘presented a threat to national security’.
The intended venue, the Greater Alpha restaurant in Manzini was surrounded by about seven police and army vehicles and between 30 and 40 paramilitary police officers.
Local embassies, church leaders, community organisations, the local and international media were among those invited to attend the meeting.
The joint organisers of the meeting the Swaziland United Democratic Front (SUDF) and the Swaziland Democracy Campaign (SDC) had told police this morning they would defy the ban. This afternoon they told followers of social media sites they would continue to seek a venue so the meeting could go ahead.
The public meeting was to mark the 40th anniversary of the Royal Decree made by King Sobhuza II in 1973 that turned Swaziland from a democracy to a kingdom ruled by an autocratic monarchy.
POLICE BAN DEMOCRACY PUBLIC MEETING