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

Swaziland parliamentary elections kick off

afrol News, 19 September - Swaziland held it's parliamentary elections today whilst yesterday police arrested a number of union leaders for planning a border blockade ahead of polls.

There were no news of arrested when voting ended at 4pm and results of polls are expected tomorrow.

"I can confirm that voting has started and so far everything is running smoothly," said Mzwandile Fakudze, deputy chairman of Swaziland's Election Boundaries Commission.

Election, which will be monitored by foreign observers, will be free and fair Mr Fakudze told media.

"We have more than six observer missions from different organisations and we are confident that process will go on without any disturbances," he added.

Several union leaders were detained yesterday by police who also prevented other labour activists from participating in a protest at border with South Africa.

Protest would have led to anarchy ahead of the election, said authorities.

An estimated 400,000 Swazis are entitled to vote in election, in which 55 seats are being contested.

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

While King Mswati III remains popular, he faces growing dissatisfaction from critics and unions who accuse him of living an extravagant lifestyle while refusing to adopt democratic reforms and undertake social problems including Africa's most horrible AIDS epidemics.

In 2007 Swaziland economy grew about 3.5 percent, but has buffeted in recent months by higher prices for fuel and food slowdown in its main trading partner South Africa.

Unemployment level is about 40 percent in southern African kingdom and there are fears that unemployment and poverty could rise as a result of economic difficulties.

Earlier this month, protesters reportedly threw stones at some shops, looted a market and set off an explosion that damaged a bus.

King Mswati, who was voted world's 15th richest ruler by Forbes magazine, is not seen loosening his grip on power soon, according to political observers in Swaziland.

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