- King Mswati III announced that Cleopas Dlamini is the new Eswatini prime minister.
- The announcement was made during the king’s first public address on recent protests.
- Protesters had been calling for the right to elect their own prime minister.
King Mswati III announced a new prime minister for Eswatini on Friday.
During a national dialogue to address the unrest in the country, the king announced that Cleopas Dlamini would be the country’s new prime minister.
Dlamini is chief executive officer of the Public Service Pension Fund, and becomes the eleventh prime minister appointed by the king.
Dlamini replaces acting prime minister Themba Masuku, who took over after Ambrose Dlamini succumbed to Covid-19 in December last year.
The announcement was made during a sibaya, a traditional forum for public dialogue. It was the first time the king had addressed the violent protests in the country that have led to the deaths of at least 50 people.
During his address at the Ludzidzini Royal Residence, King Mswati III outlined plans for rebuilding the country and recovering from a loss of at least R3 billion due to arson and looting. He also mocked reports that he was out of the country and attributed his silence to observance of Covid-19 regulations.
The announcement goes against calls from pro-democracy protesters, who demanded electoral reforms that would allow them to choose their own prime minister. While Eswatini citizens can elect a parliamentarian to present their constituency in government, the king reserves the power to elect the prime minister.
Just over 20km away, in the commercial capital Manzini, police dispersed protesters who were marching for justice and change.
Dozens gathered at the royal residence for the sibaya. The sibaya, a meeting at the royal kraal, was formalised in the 2005 constitution as a form of public participation in which citizens, regardless of political affiliation, can air their grievance to the king and other leaders. According to the constitution, "the people, through sibaya, constitute the highest policy and advisory council (Libandla) of the nation".
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