British Queen's Swazi king invite angers

2012-05-17 22:14

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Mbabane - Swazi pro-democracy groups were outraged on Thursday at the invitation of King Mswati III, Africa's last absolute monarch, to a lunch marking the diamond jubilee of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II.

Mswati was reportedly on the guest list of sovereigns from around the world to an event being held to mark Queen Elizabeth's 60 years on the British throne.

The country's banned opposition party, the People's United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), said the queen's invite was giving legitimacy to Mswati's "despotic rule".

"A snub of the monarch would have sent a strong message that the democratic world does not condone the misrule of the monarch" PUDEMO's spokesperson Zakhele Mabuza said.

A rights grouping, the Swazi Diaspora Platform, said it was regrettable that the queen was associating with a king that bans political parties.

"It is with deep regret that the British monarch continuously gives legitimacy to the authoritarian rule of Mswati III by inviting him to their events," said group's spokesperson Ntombenhle Khathwane.

"They are inadvertently condoning the despotic nature of Mswati III and his government that holds its citizens in servitude," added Khathwane.

The Swazi Vigil, a group of exiled Swazis in Britain, on Wednesday led protests outside London's luxurious Savoy Hotel, where King Mswati was said to be staying with an entourage of more than 30 people ahead of the event.

Buckingham Palace will neither confirm who is on the guest list nor comment on the lunch, being held on Friday at Windsor Castle, west of London.

The impoverished kingdom of Swaziland is facing an economic meltdown, with pro-democracy and labour unions blaming the crisis on King Mswati III's lavish lifestyle and on his failure to manage the economy.

Read more on:    queen elizabeth ii  |  king mswati iii  |  swaziland  |  southern africa  |  royalty
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