Swaziland bans protests
Mbabane - Swaziland has banned protests planned for next week, Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini said on Thursday, warning the public not to join anti-government rallies in Africa's last absolute monarchy.
In a strongly worded statement, he said organisers of the three-day protests planned to start on Tuesday did not have permission to march.
"This then renders the protest illegal. We do not therefore, expect any individual to participate in any such proposed protest action," he said.
"Government accordingly strongly warns those organising and intending to participate in the protest action to refrain from doing so and continue with their normal day-to-day business," Dlamini said.
He added that businesses would not pay workers who join the protest against the 25-year reign of King Mswati III, who has ruled over Swaziland since he was 18.
Mswati, 42, is accused of bankrupting the state coffers with his lavish lifestyle and 13 wives.
Efforts to slash salaries of civil servants sparked the biggest protests seen in years on March 18, as labour unions rallied workers into the streets.
The campaign against Mswati has drawn strong support from powerful labour unions in South Africa, which back the Swaziland Solidarity Network, an umbrella group of activists in exile.