BY SAMBULO DLAMINI in Mbabane

Eswatini police accused of firing live bullets at protesters.

UNITED Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, has condemned government’s crackdown on pro-democracy
protests in Eswatini.

The UN chief is the highest figure to slam the violent suppression of the civil unrest that started in June and intensified in recent days.

Guterres’ spokesperson said the Secretary-General was deeply concerned with the ongoing developments, including the recent deployment of armed security forces at various schools in the kingdom.

He noted reports of excessive use of force in response to student demonstrations and the indefinite closure of schools.

“This adversely affects children and young people,” Guterres’ spokesperson said.

Guterres reiterated the importance of enabling the people of Eswatini to exercise their civil and political rights peacefully.

He urged the embattled administration presided over by King Mswati III to ensure security forces acted in conformity with relevant international human rights standards.

These principles include the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

“The Secretary-General condemns all acts of violence and urges all parties and the media to refrain from disinformation, hate speech and incitement,” his spokesperson stated.

The UN restated its commitment to work with the government and the people of Eswatini, and all partners, to achieve a peaceful resolution.

Sabelo Dlamini, the Eswatini government spokesperson, said the administration “notes with appreciation” the statement from Guterres’ office.

“Government will continue to avail the necessary information to the organisation (UN) and all relevant stakeholders about the current civil unrest in the Kingdom,” he stated.

Formerly Swaziland, the nation of 1,175 million people plunged into mayhem in June as a result of rising protests for democratic reforms.

Calm was retained, albeit after brutal intervention by state security, but the continued detention of some pro-democracy legislators have reignited the hostilities.

Amnesty International has reported 70 people deaths and 150 hospitalisations during crackdowns. – CAJ News