Pro-democracy protests mount as Eswatini blocks internet





The closure came as images of the protests circulated on social and traditional media, including photos of two people who said they had been injured by gunshots fired by security forces.

MBABANE – Eswatini, Africa’s last absolute monarchy, shut down the internet for two hours on Friday as pro-democracy protesters headed for the capital.

The closure came as images of the protests circulated on social and traditional media, including photos of two people who said they had been injured by gunshots fired by security forces.

The internet shutdown completely blocked social media for two hours and caused many services to run very slowly after that.

“It’s a shame we have a government that chooses to suppress the voices of the people or cut off all lines of communication, rather than respond to the demands made by our people,” said Wonder Mkhonza, general secretary of the Amalgamated Trade Union. from Swaziland.

“The dictatorship’s ostrich mentality is shameful to say the least. The ruling elites are determined to take the whole country with them and they will pay for their actions,” he told AFP.

Formerly known as Swaziland, Eswatini is ruled by King Mswati III, the last absolute monarch of Africa.

He owns shares in all of the country’s telecom companies.

Unions, opposition parties and student groups have joined the latest protests, which have lasted more than two weeks. Protesters have also closed roads leading to all borders in the small landlocked country. In the big cities, soldiers were seen on the streets.

The latest demonstrations have mainly called for the release of two lawmakers arrested earlier this year during pro-democracy protests. Civil society and opposition groups demonstrated in the largest cities of Manzini and Mbabane in June, looting shops and ransacking business premises.

At least 28 people died when police clashed with protesters in one of the worst unrest in the South African country’s history. The last fatality occurred on Wednesday. But at the root of all the protesters’ demands is the push for democratic reforms.

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