Democracy no good for Swaziland, claims King says democracy

Leyla Linton
Monday 21 April 2003 00:00
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King Mswati of Swaziland, sub-Saharan Africa's last absolute monarch, has told his subjects that democracy is no good for his tiny kingdom, despite international efforts to establish popular rule.

"Although the whole world in preaching democracy, it does not mean we have to follow them," the 35-year-old King told worshippers at an Easter service on Saturday. "Democracy is not good for us, because God gave us our own way of doing things."

Political parties have been banned since 1973, when King Mswati's father overturned the constitution. Swaziland's Prime Minister is chosen by the King and the government rubberstamps his wishes. Late last year, the Prime Minister blocked a court ruling that sought to limit the King's power, triggering a series of protests and resignations.

King Mswati drew criticism for firing the country's most senior judge, Chief Justice Stanley Spire, after he refused to drop a case brought against the King for allegedly abducting an 18-year-old to be his wife. The King also sparked controversy when he overruled his parliament to put a downpayment of £1.7m on a £32m private jet while a quarter of his country's people face starvation.

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