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Wednesday, 2 July 2008


The European Union (EU) is to snub this year’s elections in Swaziland, because there are ‘shortcomings’ in the kingdom’s democracy.

This was revealed at a media conference in Swaziland yesterday (1 July 2008).

Peter Beck Christiansen, the EU Ambassador to Swaziland, told the media that the EU had received an invitation to ‘observe’ the elections, expected later this year, but had declined.

According to the Times of Swaziland today (2 July 2008) Christiansen said it was noted by the Commonwealth that there are ‘shortcomings in the kingdom’s democracy’.

The Times reports Christiansen saying, ‘It is noted that the Prime Minister is not elected by Parliament.’

He added, ‘The same applies to Cabinet Ministers, they’re not appointed by Cabinet.’

He also said, ‘It’s clear that the [Swazi] constitution has some shortcomings.’

Christiansen was citing information from the Commonwealth. He may have had in mind the letter I referred to in my post on Sunday where the Commonwealth Expert Team, which had observed the last election in Swaziland in 2003, said, ‘we do not regard the credibility of these National elections as an issue: no elections can be credible when they are for a Parliament which does not have power and when political parties are banned’.

The Times in its report called Christiansen’s comments a ‘bombshell’. I’ll leave it to you to decide whether they are really unexpected. They obviously were too much for the Swazi Observer (the only other daily newspaper in Swaziland); it ignored Christiansen’s comments completely.

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