Voters have begun registering for elections in Swaziland, Africa’s last absolute monarchy, with unions calling for a boycott of a “rubber-stamp” poll.
Authorities expect some 600 000 eligible voters – slightly more than half of the 1.1-million population – to put their names down for the legislative elections, expected by October.
But the country’s opposition and unions have rubbished the vote as undemocratic and a mere rubber-stamping of the autocratic rule of King Mswati III.
“We call on people not to register but if they can’t … we call on them to peacefully disrupt the vote,” said Kenneth Kunene, secretary general of the Communist Party of Swaziland, one of the leading opposition parties on Monday. Kunene, in exile in South Africa, alleged that police had been deployed to “intimidate” and coerce people to register to vote.
Civil society and pro-democracy groups have called on parliamentarians in Swaziland to scrap debates on three proposed amendments that they say would further erode the fundamental human rights of citizens in the southern African kingdom.
Parliament is debating the amendment of the public order act, the professional terrorism act and the police act.
The proposal for the public order act of 1973 states that groups of at least 15 people cannot convene without first giving reasons for the meeting, presenting the agenda and getting permission from the commissioner of police.
Voice of America