eSwatini elections were neither free nor fair – observer groups

eSwatini elections were neither free nor fair – observer groups

King Mswati III. Image: Facebook

The African Union (AU) has called on the country to end the ban on political parties.

Three official observer groups said eSwatini’s recent elections, although peaceful, were neither free nor fair.

Political parties were banned from taking part in last Friday’s elections in the kingdom formerly known as Swaziland.

Voters are only allowed to elect 59 members of the House of Assembly, while the king appoints a further 10. None of the 30 members of the eSwatini Senate are elected by the people, Swazimedia.blogspot reported on Tuesday.

The king chooses the prime minister and government ministers as well as top public servants and judges, Swazimedia.blogspot reported further.

In its election report, the African Union (AU) called on eSwatini to end the ban on political parties.

AU mission head James Michel, the former Seychelles president, said: “The mission encourages the eSwatini authorities to consider reviewing the 1973 decree on the ban on political parties and allow them to freely participate in the election”.

The Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) Election Observation Mission said in its report that the elections had been successful and “in line with the constitution of the Kingdom of eSwatini, and the guiding Legal Framework”.

Unlike the AU, however, the SADC didn’t take into consideration whether the landlocked kingdom was a democracy or not and qualified this by explaining that it wasn’t in the country to change its governance but only to observe elections.

The eSwatini Elections Support Network which operates under the auspices of the Coordinating Assembly of NGOs (Cango) for its part made no comment on whether the elections were “free and fair”.

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