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Africa

Thousands of Swazis rally in Mbabane

media Protesters in Mbabane, 18 March 2011. Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko

Thousands of public sector workers marched through Swaziland’s capital on Friday, in the country’s biggest protest for years. Civil servants demanded the resignation of the government in protest at planned redundancies and pay cuts.

About 10,000 teachers, nurses and students took part in the rally in Mbabane, according to the Swaziland Solidarity Network, a pro-democracy group based in South Africa.

The march ended at Prime Minister Sibusiso Dlamini’s office, where protesters delivered a petition demanding the resignation of Dlamini and his cabinet.

There were no reports of violence. Earlier in the week, police had broken up union meetings on the march, prompting South Africa’s ANC Youth League to threaten reprisals if security forces attempted to stop the rally.

Nearly 70 per cent of Swaziland’s 1.2 million people live on less than one US dollar a day.

King Mswati III, who has ruled the country for 25 years, is said to have a personal fortune of more than 70.6 million euros.

The International Monetary Fund last month told the Swazi government to reduce its public wage bill in order to apply for loans. 

 
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