July 12, 2004

Police prevent opposition rally

Police said they were provoked into using force to prevent Swaziland's largest political opposition group, the People's United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), from holding a rally. The action came just days after King Mswati had said Swazi dissidents should meet inside the country, rather than on foreign soil. "There is no freedom of assembly or speech in Swaziland. The brutal violence used yet again by police on unarmed peaceful protestors shows what type of government this is," PUDEMO president Mario Masuku explained.

According to police spokesman Assistant Superintendent Vusi Masuku, the police were provoked into action by stone-throwing protestors, who had injured two policemen in the attack. Masuku and five other PUDEMO executives were detained by police for three hours on Saturday. About 20 PUDEMO members were hospitalised after sustaining injuries inflicted by riot police. The banned political party sought to meet in the central commercial town of Manzini, 40 km east of the capital Mbabane, to commemorate the 21st year of its formation. (IRIN)


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