Swazi democracy activists allege royal crackdown

2013-04-25 14:50

Pro-democracy activists in Swaziland said at least three of their allies had been arrested and charged with sedition following recent protests against the king’s rule.

The Swaziland Solidarity Network said two members of the country’s Communist Party and a former student union leader had been rounded up and charged.

The network said lengthy delays before the three appeared in court raised concerns that the group was being tortured.

Tensions have been running high in the mountainous landlocked kingdom since April 12, the 40th anniversary of a royal decree that transformed Swaziland from a democracy into an absolute monarchy.

Protests were also launched on April 19, to coincide with birthday celebrations for King Mswati III.

The king has faced sustained criticism of his autocratic rule, fuelled by high levels of poverty.

According to the International Monetary Fund, Swaziland is one of only two countries in Africa likely to see negative economic growth this year, along with Equatorial Guinea.

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