A curfew has been imposed across Swaziland (eSwatini) as pro-democracy protests intensify and unconfirmed reports say absolute monarch King Mswati III has fled the kingdom.
The Swazi Acting Prime Minister Themba Masuku announced on Tuesday (29 June 2021) there would be an immediate curfew between the hours of 6pm and 5am.
He said in a statement, ‘All offices must be closed by 3:30pm to allow workers to get home safely. Essential workers will be required to produce a permit when travelling at night. No one is expected to be in the streets after 6pm.’
Schools will be closed with immediate effect, he said.
Last Thursday Masuku, speaking on behalf of the King, banned all protest marches but they continued unabated.
There have been reports across the kingdom of violence between police and protestors. Live ammunition has been fired by police and there are reports across social media of injuries among protestors.
Swaziland is not a democracy. King Mswati rules as an absolute monarch. Political parties are banned from taking part in elections and the King chooses the Prime Minister and government cabinet ministers as well as top judges and civil servants. Groups advocating for democracy are outlawed under the Suppression of Terrorism Act.
In his statement, Masuku warned protestors, ‘Our security forces are on the ground to maintain law and order.’
On Tuesday morning the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation and other media outlets published unconfirmed reports that King Mswati had fled Swaziland.