26 April 2013

Swaziland: King Sees Opposition As 'Treason'

King Mswati III views all opposition to the elections in his kingdom later this year as 'treason', the Communist Party of Swaziland (CPS) said.

Activists have been arrested and charged with sedition for trying to hold an election rally earlier this month (April 2013).

The CPS said the charges showed King Mswati, 'views opposition to his elections as treason'.

Those arrested include Swaziland Youth Congress (SWAYOCO) Secretary General Maxwell Dlamini; SWAYOCO International Affairs Secretary Sonkhe Dube; Peoples United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) National Organiser and trade union leader Wonder Mkhonza, and members of Communist Party of Swaziland Central Committee Mfanawenkhosi Mtshali and Derrick Nkhambule.

CPS general secretary Kenneth Kunene said in a statement, 'The regime is desperate to make its elections appear respectable, fair and free so as to appease the international community. But in reality they are the very opposite of freedom or fairness.'

No political parties are allowed to take part in the elections which are due to be held this year, at a date yet to be announced by the king.

Kunene added, 'The Mswati dictatorship is also clamping down more widely on opposition at this time. Increasingly, we are seeing shows of force by the police and army, designed to intimidate anyone contemplating resisting the regime.'

A report on human rights over the past year in the kingdom released last week by the US State Department confirmed a raft of human rights abuses in the kingdom, ruled by King Mswati, who is sub-Saharan Africa's last absolute monarch.

The report stated, 'Citizens remained unable to change their government. The three main human rights abuses were police use of excessive force, including use of torture, beatings, and unlawful killings; restrictions on freedoms of association, assembly, and speech; and discrimination and abuse of women and children.'

The CPS has called on international organisations, including the Southern African Development Community, African Union, European Union and the United Nations to, 'take a resolute stand on the crimes of the Mswati regime and to demand an end to the dictatorship'.

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