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Eswatini

Yearbook 2002

Swaziland. Opposition politician Mario Masuku was brought to trial at the beginning of the year. He was charged with rebellion by demanding the king's departure and was threatened with 20 years in prison. After several months of interruption, the trial resumed in August, when Masuku was acquitted.

2002 Eswatini

When Masuku was released, after being imprisoned for close to a year, he declared that Swaziland should be granted a constitutional monarch like Britain. In a later speech to his supporters, Masuku argued that Swaziland's royal government can never be reformed but must be removed. He warned the king of the "tide of masses" he said were on the way. Masuku's party, the People's United Democratic Movement, is banned by the regime.

During the year, Swaziland's Catholic Church accused the government and the royal family of allowing corruption and violating human rights. Criticism came from several directions against the regime for mismanagement of the economy. Unemployment is around 40% and about one fifth of the population is dependent on food aid after a few years of drought and malnutrition. At the same time, one third of the population is estimated to be HIV-infected.

According to Countryaah website, the polygamy system was challenged during the year. When King Mswati appointed an 18-year-old girl to his tenth wife, the girl's mother sued employees at the court and accused them of kidnapping. It was the first public protest of its kind against the king. The case developed into a legal scandal with pressure from the government against lawyers who pursued the case. However, the mother gave up her fight when the intended queen said she would accept the king's decision.

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