A security police force in Swaziland has begun a clampdown on pro-democracy protests in the Swaziland capital, Mbabane. Leaders of one of the main trade union movements in the southern African nation have been arrested and detained.
The leaders are from the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA), the main antagonists in the protest movement. They were arrested in the capital's Coronation Park on Thursday morning. One report suggests the union leaders are being held under heavy guard at the capital's central police station.
On Wednesday, Swazi's Prime Minister, Barnabas Dlamini, announced all protests would be banned and claimed the courts had deemed them illegal. Swaziland is a Kingdom landlocked within South Africa. Dlamini had sent instructions to the national security services to deal with the protesters, reports All Africa News. In a separate statement from government spokesman, Percy Simelane, he warned of "dealing with those who want to defy the law."
The head of state is currently King Mswati III, who ascended to the throne in 1986 after the death of his father King Sobhuza II in 1982, the small African nation experienced a four-year regency period following Sobhuza's death. Swaziland is sub-Saharan Africa's last remaining absolute monarch.
Bloomberg reports, political parties are outlawed in Swaziland, this leaves the unions to play the only role in any campaign for reform. The head of the nation's teachers union was among those arrested according to Lucky Lukhele, spokesman for the Swaziland Solidarity Network. The movement claims the country has been suffering from a perpetual state of emergency decreed by tinkhundla ruling regime for 39 years.
The movement says it has been denied legitimate rights to expression, organisations and association in matters that affect their daily lives.