Eswatini’s Pro-Democracy Movement Isn’t Going Away

Eswatini’s Pro-Democracy Movement Isn’t Going Away
Eswatini’s King Mswati III and his wife attend a welcome ceremony of the Russia-Africa summit in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia, Oct. 23, 2019 (TASS News Agency pool photo by Valery Sharifulin via AP).

Following the intense pro-democracy protests that rocked Eswatini over the summer, international interest in the small southern African nation has waned. But for proponents of democratic reforms in the continent’s last absolute monarchy—formerly known as Swaziland—the fight is far from over. 

In mid-October, demonstrations once again intensified, partly to demand the release of two pro-democracy lawmakers who have been detained since July. Security forces loyal to King Mswati III responded with tear gas and rubber bullets, resulting in at least one death and 80 injuries.

All told, dozens of people have been killed since protests first began in response to the May death of a law student at the hands of security officers. Despite the regime’s violent crackdown and alleged abuses by security forces—reportedly including torture and disappearances—the unrest has grown into a broad movement calling for political reforms and a higher standard of living. 

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