Police crack down on Swaziland protesters


MBABANE — Swazi police Friday fired teargas and beat back anti-government protesters with batons in the capital Mbabane, where 1,000 people marched after authorities failed to win a court order to stop them.

The protests marked the fifth day of nationwide rallies against absolute monarch King Mswati III, accused of bankrupting the nation’s treasury while enjoying a lavish life with his 13 wives.

Two people were injured when police tried to disperse the crowd as the leader of the banned People’s United Democratic Movement, Mario Masuku, was addressing them.

“They just wanted to cause chaos,” Masuku told AFP.

At least five people were injured and two arrested, according to organisers, but the protesters quickly regrouped despite the heavy presence of riot police on the streets.

The government had tried to block the protest by presenting a court with newspaper pictures from a student demonstrations on Wednesday that ended in clashes with security forces, said Muzi Mhlanga, secretary general of the Swaziland National Teachers Association.

“Government said the protest action was no longer peaceful. They said we burnt traditional regalia, jumped on top of police vehicles and threw stones,” Mhlanga said.
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