Pro-democracy protests have been taking place across Swaziland (eSwatini), especially in rural areas, as a campaign steps up to allow people to elect their own prime minister, among other sweeping changes.
Swaziland is ruled by King Mswati III as an absolute monarch. Political parties are banned from taking part in elections and the King appoints the PM and other ministers as well as top judges and civil servants.
The people also called for the economy of the kingdom to be democratically controlled by the people and the provision of free quality healthcare, education and other services. About seven in ten of the 1.1 million population live in abject poverty.
A reporter from the AFP news agency at the scene said about 500 youth gathered. Tyres were burnt and roads blocked. They chanted political slogans as they marched through the village.
AFP reported police fired stun grenades and live bullets – ‘a rare event in rural areas, which tend to support the monarchy’. The angry crowd threw stones in response.
A police spokesperson confirmed shots were fired into the air.
People also marched at Mafutseni, Zombodze Emuva, Lomahasha and Ntfonjeni among other places. More protests are expected this week.
Protestors have been marching to local government centres (known as tinkhundla) to deliver petitions demanding reforms.
Hundreds of youthful protestors blocked the road around Kukhanyeni Inkhundla while demanding that King Mswati III returns to multiparty democracy politics. Pictures from Swati Newsweek,
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