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eSwatini: King labels protests as ‘satanic’, police disperse marchers

eSwatini police on Friday broke up a march by pro-democracy protesters on the same day as King Mswati III hosted…

eSwatini police on Friday broke up a march by pro-democracy protesters on the same day as King Mswati III hosted an open public forum to discuss a simmering political crisis in the southern African kingdom.According to a video posted on Facebook by the Swaziland Democratic Front (SDF), the police fired teargas and water cannon at the protesters who were marching in eSwatini’s second largest city Manzini.

The footage showed protesters fleeing as shots rang in the background. 

The protest march had been called to coincide with an open public forum or sibaya where King Mswati was to meet with his subjects over their demands for political reforms.

The pro-democracy activists, who have engaged in running battles with the police and army since the beginning of July, accuse Mswati of being a despot and of leading a lavish lifestyle while the majority of his citizens live in abject poverty.

The king, however, denied the allegations of being an autocrat and described the protests as evil.

“The country views that conduct as satanic,” he said.

He announced a 500 million Swazi lilangenis (about US$34.74 million) fund to help repair damage to property and infrastructure, which is estimated at a total of 3 billion lilangenis.

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