King Mswati flees country as protests intensify

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THOUSANDS of people have taken to social media after reports that King Mswati III of Eswatini has fled the kingdom after pro-democracy protests turned into chaos.

There are unconfirmed reports that protesters went on the rampage and set fire to several shops in Matsapha.

Several people have also been injured during the protests.

Pro-democracy protests had been taken place in eSwatini for several days now in at least 10 different places. Police had reportedly used teargas and live ammunition in an attempt to disperse protesters, leading to injuries.

The King rules the country as an absolute monarch and it is he who chooses the Prime Minister, ministers, judges and civil servants.

The protesters have been calling for political reforms and wish to elect their own Prime Minister. Political parties have been banned in the country since 1973.

“We demand multi-party democracy now,” protester Melusi Dlamini told News24. “The time for the royal system characterised by dictatorship is over.”

The government’s ban on protests was instituted last Thursday with the National Police Commissioner giving out the warning that breaches of the ban would be met with zero tolerance.

King Mswati III has also been criticized for his lavish lifestyle and alleged human rights violations. He is a well-known polygamist with at least 15 wives and 23 children.

He was selected to be the next King at the age of 14 and he was crowned King shortly after his 18th birthday in 1986.

Since last week, the Communist Party of Swaziland (CPS) called for mass action in defiance of a ban on protests issued by the country’s absolute monarch King Mswati III.

Acting prime minister Themba Mask made the order at a time when mass demonstrations have been held calling for a return to democracy in the country, now known as Eswatini.

Citizens have been calling for the “unbanning of political parties” which were outlawed in 1973 and an end to the autocratic rule of King Mswati who exercises full control of the judiciary and executive.

More than 20 communities have marched and delivered petitions with at least 16 more expected to take place this weekend.

The CPS called for “mass defiance of the regime’s directive” and said that the people “won’t go down without a fight.”

“The regime is opposed to any move, peaceful or otherwise, meant for the democratisation of Swaziland. The attacks against the people will only intensify with the passage of time,” it said.

“The CPS will continue to organise the people towards a nationwide mass uprising for the total overthrow of the Mswati autocracy, for freedom,” it said.

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