29 more people reportedly killed in eSwatini freedom protests
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RUSTENBURG - Soldiers have killed 29 more people in eSwatini, the largest opposition party, the People's United Democratic Movement (Pudemo), said on Friday.
"In addition to the 40 people killed by the army, 29 others have been confirmed dead this morning (Friday)," secretary-general Wandile Dludlu said.
The party reported on Thursday that, according to information it has sourced from leading hospitals, more than 40 people have been killed, 150 treated for gunshot wounds and hundreds more were missing after soldiers allegedly opened fire on civilians.
Dludlu said they wanted King Mswati III and all who participated in torturing people to be held accountable.
He told a virtual press conference that they were informed that King Mswati III had a meeting with ambassadors on Thursday night and reportedly told them to "get off his back" as he was accountable only to God and not any other.
Dludlu said despite the army being unleashed on the people, they were determined to fight until they gain their freedom.
A wave of violent protests have been sweeping the small landlocked southern African kingdom of eSwatini, formerly Swaziland, for over a week now, as citizens push for democratic reforms.
Pro-democracy protests started peacefully in the Manzini region on June 20 when youth took to the streets in a push for the right to choose the prime minister democratically, as opposed to the prime minister being appointed by the king.
They also demanded that King Mswati III hand over power as the absolute monarch and allow democracy to prevail.
The protests turned violent on June 28 when buildings were torched and shops looted in Matsapha. It is believed the torched businesses are owned by King Mswati III.
This was after acting Prime Minister Themba Masuku suspended the delivery of petitions to Tinkhundla, traditional administrative subdivisions.
The government has denied unleashing the army on people and declaring martial law.
"There has been no martial law that has been declared, as reported," Masuku said in a statement on Thursday.
He said the army was called in to restore order.
"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.
- African News Agency (ANA); Editing by Yaron Blecher