Swazi King Mswati III. File photo: Reuters

Mbabane, Swaziland - Swaziland, Africa's last absolute monarchy, will hold elections on September 20, officials said, a poll that unions and opposition leaders have dismissed as a mere “rubber stamp” of the autocratic rule of King Mswati III.

The date was chosen “to allow all Swazis to participate in all the processes of the elections,” Gija Dlamini, head of the Elections and Boundaries Commission, said late Monday as he made the announcement.

Voters began registering last month for the controversial parliamentary election, with some 600 000 of the country's 1.1 million expected to put down their names.

But the opposition urged people to boycott the registration process, rubbishing the election as undemocratic.

Potential lawmakers are nominated from local regions whose leaders are directly appointed by Mswati III.

Political parties have been banned and at least three activists were arrested early this year and charged with sedition during protests against the king's rule. - Sapa-AFP