Political parties cannot be involved, there are no campaign rallies and the king wields absolute power, choosing the prime minister and cabinet: a parliamentary election in eSwatini is a vote like no other. The country, landlocked between SA and Mozambique, suffers the highest HIV adult prevalence rate in the world at 27.2%. Opposition activists in the tiny Southern African country formerly known as Swaziland say Friday’s election is a mockery of democracy and reveals how its 1.3-million citizens have lived under a repressive regime. In addition to curbs on opposition parties, anti-government protests are all but banned. Undercurrents of dissent surfaced this week with trade union protests over low wages being broken up by riot police. At least 11 people were hurt on Tuesday, a trade union official told AFP.
About 540,000 eligible voters must choose from candidates who have no party affiliation and who are almost all loyal to King Mswati III, one of the world’s last absolute monarchs.
Winners from the 59 constituency ballots take seats in a parliament over which the king has complete control. He also appoints a further 10 directly.
Parties are now allowed to exist under the 2005 constitution but have suffered repeated security crackdowns as well as court defeats in their battle for legal recognition and to be allowed to take part in elections.
Full Article: eSwatini braces for ‘election’.