The tiny African nation of eSwatini is officially holding its first set of elections Friday under its new name, which was bestowed by the king in April. Critics say this poll is nothing but a pretense of democracy in the state, that was known as Swaziland, until the king unilaterally changed the name to celebrate the nation’s 50th anniversary of independence from Britain.
Voters will choose 55 parliamentarians to fill the lower house in this nation of some 1.3 million people. King Mswati III, who has ruled since 1986 with unlimited constitutional powers, gets to choose another 10 legislators.
VOA made multiple attempts to reach government officials to discuss the elections, but calls and messages were not returned. The government’s official website makes no pretense of eSwatini being an ordinary democracy, describing the king as being “born to rule,” and “the only absolute monarch in Africa who rules his country with a firm hand.” Read more