Activists calling for democratic reforms promise to continue the demonstrations that have shaken the country for several days.
Eswatini, formerly known as Swaziland, has imposed a curfew at dawn amid pro-democracy protests that have rocked the country for three consecutive days.
Activists have vowed to intensify demonstrations demanding democratic reforms and the lifting of bans from all opposition parties in the country.
Videos of people burning tires and barricading streets in the largest city, Manzini, and in the center of Matsapha have circulated on social media.
“Unfortunately, the protests we are seeing lately have been hijacked by criminal elements. This cannot be acceptable under any circumstances, “acting Prime Minister Themba Masuku said on Tuesday.
To quell the unrest, the government ordered all businesses to close at 3.30pm (13.30 GMT) and a strict curfew for all residents to take to the streets from 6pm to 5pm. in the morning. Schools were told to close immediately.
The last absolute monarch of Africa
King Mswati III, the last absolute monarch of Africa to rule the country for more than three decades, is accused by protesters of human rights abuses and leading a repressive government.
Her family, including 15 women, is accused of enjoying a lavish lifestyle while most of the country’s 1.1 million people are impoverished, according to human rights groups.
Political parties were banned in 1973 and they are banned from running in the parliamentary elections in the country, formerly known as Swaziland.
The Eswatini government on Tuesday denied claims the king had fled the country.
“His Majesty King Mswati III is in the country and continues to lead his collaboration with the government to advance the goals of the kingdom,” the acting prime minister said.
He called for “calm, moderation and peace,” saying the government would update the nation on “government interventions on the current situation.”
Protesters are calling for reforms
Protesters are demanding a democratic government that serves the interests of the people, said Sakhile Nxumalo of the Swaziland Youth Congress, which is taking part in the demonstrations.
“People want a democratic government where they can choose their own leaders, in particular, they want a republic so that the country can be ruled by a president,” Nxumalo said.
He claimed that the royal family had deployed the army to attack the protesters and quell the demonstrations.
“People have been told that they are tired of feeding a certain family and making sure a certain family lives with their blood,” Nxumalo posted on WhatsApp. “So now they’ve taken him to the street.”
Matsapha’s factories and jobs have been halted and protesters are demanding that all businesses in the royal family be confiscated or destroyed, he said.
The 16-nation regional bloc, the Southern African Development Community, known as SADC, should intervene in Eswatini, said Lucky Lukhele, a spokesman for the South African-based Swaziland Solidarity Network.
“Although we stand by the people of Swaziland in this difficult period, we want to urge the international community once again to play a proactive role in minimizing casualties. The Swazi issue should now be SADC’s top priority, “Lukhele said in a statement.