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Eswatini king flees from his kingdom as pro-democracy protests threaten his reign

King Mswati III of Eswatini has reportedly fled from his kingdom in his private jet as pro-democracy protests across the country threaten his over three-decade-long reign.

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The Swaziland Solidarity Network (SSN) which gave credence to the king’s fleeing claims said his private jet was seen exiting the country on Monday.

“These allegations started after his jet was seen flying from Matsapha airport in the evening.

“Whatever the truth about the king’s whereabouts is, the situation on the ground in the country is extremely volatile as supermarkets and industrial plants have been set alight by unknown people while the army has already been deployed to control the situation. There are allegations that more than one bystander or protestor has already been killed by the army or the police,” SSN spokesperson Lucky Lukhele reportedly said in a statement.

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According to reports, a leading chain store, OK Foods, situated in Matsapha, and other outlets were set ablaze on Monday evening by the protesters who appear determined to end the monarchy in Eswatini.

The landlocked southern African country has been experiencing demonstrations for several days in at least 10 different places, reports say.

The situation became so chaotic that police had to fire tear gas and live ammunition to disperse the irate protesters, leading to injuries.

Eswatini king rules the country as an absolute monarch and he is the one who chooses the prime minister, ministers, judges, and civil servants as political parties have been banned in the country since 1973.

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The citizens who are fed up with the monarchy system are demanding political reforms to enable them to elect their own prime minister instead of the king imposing his choice on them.

“We demand multi-party democracy now,” protester Melusi Dlamini told News24, adding: “The time for the royal system characterised by dictatorship is over.”

The citizens have been enduring the rulership of the king over the years but the last straw that broke the camel’s back was a decree banning the delivery of petitions.

The Solidarity Network called on the international community to help ensure the protests continue peacefully with minimal casualties.

“The Swazi issue should now be the top priority of the SADC. King Mswati and his cohorts should be held accountable for the mess that the country finds itself in.”

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King Mswati III is a polygamist with at least 15 wives and 23 children.

He was selected to be the next King at the age of 14 and he was crowned King shortly after his 18th birthday in 1986.

His reign has been characterised by a lot of controversies bothering on his extravagant lifestyle and alleged human rights violations.

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