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Pro-democracy groups reject Mswati’s calls for mediation

Pro-democracy groups reject Mswati’s calls for mediation

MANZINI – Africa’s last absolute monarch on Saturday called for calm and dialogue in the kingdom of Eswatini following a visit by regional mediators to try resolve a national crisis and deadly unrest.

But opposition political parties and civil society groups, have rejected the call to talks.

Formerly known as Swaziland, the country has been rocked by anti-monarchy demonstrations that broke out in June and have prompted authorities to deploy the army.

The latest flare-up has run for more than two weeks, spearheaded by students, civil servants and transport workers.

At least two people were killed and dozens injured as security forces fired tear gas, live rounds and rubber bullets to disperse crowds.

Themba Ginindza, a senior aide of the king, said Mswati III “has announced that a process of national dialogue… will be initiated” after an annual ritual ceremony that starts in November and usually lasts several months.

During the ceremony known as Incwala, the king goes into seclusion and does not engage in official government activities.

Ginindza said the king wanted calm, and “an end to all violence as no dialogue can happen while tempers are this high.”

But opposition and pro-democracy groups rubbished his call “as a ploy to mislead” mediators.

Mediators from the 16-nation Southern African Development Community concluded two-day mediation talks with the king, government and civil society groups on Friday.

In a statement on Saturday, SADC’s head of politics and defence, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, backed the idea of a national dialogue.

Ramaphosa appealed “for calm, restraint, the respect for the rule of law and human rights on all sides to enable the process to commence.” – AFP.

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