The tiny African Kingdom of Esvatini was hit by pro-democracy protests this week, and reports of violence and the deaths of protesters are arriving.

Protesters are demanding democratic reforms and accusing King Mswati of the Third, who has ruled the small mountain kingdom absolutistically for more than 30 years, of repression.

Protesters are demanding reforms and the lifting of the ban on opposition political parties, which has been in force since 1973.

Sinke Dube, president of the “Swaziland Youth Congress”, which is participating in the demonstrations, called on the United Nations, the 16-member South African Development Community and the African Union to impose sanctions on King Mswati and the ruling family.

Human rights organizations accuse the royal family, including 15 royal women, of enjoying luxury, while many of the country’s 1.1 million inhabitants, who cover only two hundred kilometers from end to end, live in poverty.

The capital, Mbabane, and the largest city, Mazini, have been hit hardest by protests. Protesters are setting up barricades in streets and roads and setting fires, often in or owned by businesses owned by the royal family.

Factories and trucks burned in the industrial city of Matsapa.

The Esvatini government has imposed curfews in an attempt to quell demonstrations, and photos and videos on social media show soldiers attacking people believed to be protesters.

Activists claim that soldiers and police have killed more than 20 protesters since the beginning of the protest this week, but the police did not confirm that information, nor did government officials and health workers.

Acting Prime Minister Esvatini Temba Masuku said “criminal elements” had taken over the legitimate protests.

The government of South Africa, which almost completely surrounds Esvatini, called for calm and restraint and said that it was following the political and security crisis with great concern.

“We are particularly concerned about reports of killings and destruction of property. The right to peaceful protest is universally recognized,” the powerful neighbor said, urging Esvatini’s security forces to refrain and protect people’s lives and property.

Esvatini is better known by the former name of Swaziland from the time when it was under British rule.

By Editor

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