Eswatini activists set conditions for talks towards democracy

Efforts are being made to hold talks after violent protests rocked the country in recent weeks.

Barricades are seen in a road during a protest in Mbabane, on 21 October 2021. At least 80 people were injured in eSwatini on 20 October 2021, a union leader said, as security forces cracked down on escalating pro-democracy protests in Africa's last absolute monarchy. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG - Eswatini activists have laid out their conditions for talks with government leaders about moving the absolute monarchy closer to being a democracy.

Efforts are being made to hold talks after violent protests rocked the country in recent weeks.

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Church leaders say the people want to be heard as equals in talks with the government and King Mswati III.

Reverend Gabriel Tsuaneng from the Botswana Council of Churches explained, “this dialogue they are asking for should not be the isibaya dialogue, which is the annual national dialogue in Eswatini, but they want a different kind of leadership where they engage with their leadership the king in particular and this dialogue must be presided over by the international community."

Activist Mary da Silva from Eswatini's Multi-Stakeholders’ Forum said the right environment should be created for this.

This included removing soldiers from the streets and releasing the two members of parliament who were imprisoned during protests.

The church leaders and activists addressed a webinar organised by the Southern African liaison office.