eSwatini denies declaring martial law and unleashing army on protesters
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RUSTENBURG – No marshal law has been declared in the Kingdom of eSwatini, acting prime minister Themba Masuku said on Thursday.
"There has been no marshal law that has been declared, as reported," he said in a statement.
Martial law is the temporary imposition of direct military control of normal civil functions or suspension of civil law by a government, especially in response to a temporary emergency where civil forces are overwhelmed.
"The government has tightened security to regain the rule-of-law, peace and to protect all emaSwati. We continue not to tolerate the looting, arson, violence, and all other forms of criminality that are currently being directed at businesses and people’s property," Masuku said.
The Communist Party of Swaziland has accused the government of intensifying its censorship drive by shutting down the internet and unleashed its military on the masses, aiming to quell the pro-democracy protests sweeping through the country.
"The regime used the internet blackout to invade people’s homes, randomly assault, shoot and kill people, hoping the attacks would not be detected," CP general secretary Thokozane Kunene said in a statement.
Masuku said the army was called to protect critical national infrastructure and enforce the Covid-19 regulations.
The Kingdom of eSwatini, formerly Swaziland is engulfed in violent protests pushing for a democratic dispensation in the tiny kingdom.
The protest started peacefully in Manzini region on June 20, when youth took to the streets in a push for the right to chose a prime minister democratically, as opposed to appointment by the king.
They also demanded King Mswati III to hand over power as the absolute monarch and allow democracy to prevail in the landlocked southern Africa country.
The protests turned violent on June 28 when buildings were torched and shops looted in Matsapha. It is believed that King Mswati III owned the businesses that were torched.
The protests turned violent after Masuku suspended the delivery of petitions to Tinkhundla, a traditional administrative subdivision.
According to the Swaziland Solidarity Network, a South African based solidarity movement, the people of eSwatini had set a straight forward plan of engaging the government.
"The delivery of petitions is the first step. The government has been given until the end of July to respond to all demands contained in the petitions, failing which the constituencies would then deliver the same petitions to the regional administrators," spokesperson Lucky Lukhele said in a statement.
He said after regional action the people were to take their grievances to the national government.
"Failure by the national government to accede to these demands will lead the people to make the country totally ungovernable until their demands are met.
"By declaring that this programme of action is not procedural, and brutally crushing it, the government has only fanned the flames of what is gradually becoming a nationwide revolt," Lukhele said.
African News Agency