November 14, 2003

SWAZILAND: New constitution keeps king strongly in power

Swaziland's King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa's last absolute monarch, formally accepted a

new constitution on Friday, Nov 14, which keeps power firmly in royal hands. Besides, Mswati also presented a new prime minister to thousands of Swazis who sat on the ground amid mud and cow dung for the traditional ceremony. "The man I am presenting to you can work with the king, and you will support him," Mswati said in naming his new prime minister, Themba Dlamini, a member of Mswati's clan who formerly served as managing director of a royal conglomerate.

The new constitution, which has been delayed for several years, replaces the one which was overturned in 1973 when Mswati's father, King Sobhuza, assumed all executive, judicial and legislative power. The document, keeps the 35-year-old king firmly in control by maintaining the monarchy's absolute power over its one million subjects and banning serious opposition to royal rule. Pro-democracy activists label the document a rubber stamp for Mswati's rule, of which they say has become increasingly authoritarian in recent years. (Rts/IRIN)

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