Activists demanding democratic reforms promised to continue the demonstrations that have shaken the country for several days.
Eswatini, formerly known as Swaziland, imposed a curfew from dusk to dawn after pro-democracy protests shocked the country for three consecutive days.
Activists promised to step up demonstrations, demand democratic reforms and lift the ban on all opposition parties in the country.
Videos of people burning tires and setting up street barriers in the largest city of Manzini and the central town of Masapa have been circulating on social media.
“Unfortunately, the protests we have seen recently were hijacked by criminals. This is unacceptable under any circumstances,” Acting Prime Minister Themba Masuku said in a statement on Tuesday.
In order to quell the riots, the government ordered all businesses to close before 3:30 pm (13:30 GMT), and imposed a strict curfew between 6 pm and 5 am, and all residents were not allowed to go to the streets. The school was told to close immediately.
Africa’s last absolute monarch
King Mswati III, the last absolute monarch in Africa to rule the country for more than 30 years, was accused by demonstrators of violating human rights and managing an authoritarian government.
According to human rights organizations, his family, including 15 wives, are accused of enjoying a luxurious lifestyle, and most of the country’s 1.1 million people are in poverty.
The political party was banned in 1973 and banned from participating in parliamentary elections in the country, formerly known as Swaziland.
The Eswatini government on Tuesday denied the king’s claim that he had fled the country.
The Acting Prime Minister said: “His Majesty King Mswati III is in the country and continues to cooperate with the government to advance the kingdom’s goals.”
He called for “calmness, restraint and peace”, saying that the government will inform the whole country of the government’s “intervention in the current situation.”
Protesters call for reform
Sakil Nsumalo of the Swaziland Youth Congress who participated in the demonstration said that the demonstrators demanded the establishment of a democratic government that serves the interests of the people.
“People want a democratic government, where they can elect their leaders, and in particular, they want a republic so that the country can be led by a president,” Nxumalo said.
He claimed that the royal family had deployed troops to attack the protesters and quell the demonstrations.
“People themselves say that they are tired of feeding a certain family and making sure that a certain family lives on their blood,” Nxumalo said in a WhatsApp post. “So now they took it to the street.”
He said that Matsapha’s factories and workplaces have come to a standstill, and the demonstrators demanded that all businesses belonging to the royal family must be confiscated or destroyed.
Lucky Lukhele, spokesperson for the Swaziland Solidarity Network based in South Africa, said that a regional group of 16 countries, the Southern African Development Community, or SADC, should intervene in Swaziland.
“In this very difficult period, we stand with the people of Swaziland, but we hope to once again urge the international community to play an active role in minimizing casualties. The Swaziland issue should now be the top priority of the SADC “Luckler said in a statement.