See also:
» 28.03.2011 - SA workers to "invade Swaziland"
» 18.03.2011 - Swazi regime clamps down on protesters
» 17.03.2011 - Swaziland uprising "begins on Friday"
» 01.03.2011 - Swaziland gears up for "national uprising"
» 17.02.2011 - "If Egypt can, we can do it too" - Swazi opposition
» 14.02.2011 - Still no intl pressure on Swaziland
» 30.11.2010 - Swaziland opposition plans offensive
» 04.10.2010 - Neighbours lose patience with Swaziland

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Politics | Society

Protests against new Swazi constitution

afrol News, 15 June - The parliament of Swaziland, controlled by King Mswati III, has approved of a constitution that retains total powers with the King. The Swazi opposition was not consulted in the process of defining the Kingdom's first constitution since 1978 and reject the document. The constitution upholds the ban on political parties.

King Mswati's father banned all parties and annulled the constitution in 1978 as there were popular demands for democratisation. For almost thirty years, the smal Kingdom has been ruled totally according to the will of its kings, who have made international headlines for their wasting of public funds. Meanwhile, a growing number of opposition voices have called for a new, democratic constitution.

Yesterday, an unanimous parliament in Mbabane approved of Swaziland's new constitution, which the King claims will end the country's constitutional crisis. The document has however emerged from a process of consultation from which all democratic constituencies were excluded. The opposition is not even represented in parliament as political parties are still banned in the country. Most MPs are appointed by the King.

The constitutional document upholds the ban on political parties and preserves power in the hands of the monarch. King Mswati III retains the right to dissolve parliament and government, dismiss and appoint members of the judiciary and act as head of both police and army, according to this new constitution.

The Swazi opposition today made it clear it would not accept the royal constitution. The adoption of this document was seen as an attempt to defuse the long-standing constitutional conflict in the country. However, the constitutional crisis would only be "further exacerbated" by its enactment, protesters said today.

International pro-democracy groups today joined the Swazi opposition in rejecting the constitution. The Copenhagen-based group Southern Africa Contact today appealed to the international community to "exert all possible pressure on the Swazi monarchy, including the imposition of sanctions specifically targeting the royal family." Such sanctions have already been proposed by the democratic movement in Swaziland.

The adoption of the constitutional document would lead to the "further disenfranchisement, poverty and powerlessness of the Swazi people," the Danish group said. "The great challenges facing the Swazi people can only be met by democratic policies that include and activate the people themselves," it added.

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