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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Swazi police arrest protesters

afrol News, 18 September - Swaziland police have arrested a number of union leaders today for planning a border blockade ahead of parliamentary elections tomorrow in the kingdom.

Swaziland, one of the world's last absolute monarchies had said protest could cause rebellion in southern African kingdom the day before parliamentary election.

There have been recent protests calling for change and multi-party democracy.

A government spokesman has said the planned blockade was unnecessary, only causing confusion in tiny kingdom.

But secretary-general of Swaziland Federation of Labour, Vincent Ncongwane, said protesters wanted to demonstrate that Friday's elections would not be inclusive.

"Armed police pulled labour activists from buses and cars at a roadblock en route to a border crossing with South Africa, taking union leaders into vans and sending others back to capital Mbabane," union leader said.

"We are at Piggs Peak prison inside the back of a van and don't know why," Jan Sithole, general secretary of Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions, told Reuters by telephone, after he was stopped and taken away with other union leaders.

"This is detention without trial and execution of an unlawful order," he said.

With opposition parties effectively banned by royal decree since 1973, the poll is unlikely to change the tiny southern African country's political landscape.

Parliamentary elections are held every five years after which king appoints a new prime minister. More than a third of the parliament's 85 members are handpicked by the king, who also makes all government appointments.

While King Mswati III remains popular, he faces growing dissatisfaction from critics and unions who accuse him of living an extravagant lifestyle while ignoring the plight of his subjects.

An estimated 69 percent of Swazis live below poverty line and are struggling with rising prices. IMF has said Swazi economy faces growing risks, including higher inflation. Inflation is expected to rise to 12.9 percent in 2008 from 8 percent in 2007, said IMF.

Unemployment is 40 percent and prevalence of HIV/AIDS is among world's highest at 38.6 per cent.

King Mswati III who turned 40 this year, rules the country of 1.1 million people with a free hand, choosing the country's prime minister and cabinet from those elected to parliament.

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