Eswatini Schools Shut Indefinitely as Pro-Democracy Protests Intensify

Africa’s absolute monarchy, Eswatini, have closed all schools indefinitely following the escalation of demonstrations demanding a change in the system of government.

“His Majesty’s Government has taken the decision to close schools indefinitely with immediate effect,” Prime Minister Cleopas Dlamini said in a statement.

The latest protests come less than four months after the country’s police and the army acted to crush similar widespread demonstrations in the kingdom, with pupils and commercial transport workers joining the calls for change.

The pupils, who are boycotting classes, are calling for free schooling, as well as an end to the 53-year-old King Mswati III 35 years rule.

The monarch has, however, dismissed the demands and rights groups have accused his security forces of abuses, including killings and beatings.

Minister of Commerce, Industry and Trade, Senator Manqoba Khumalo, in a statement on Monday, said King Mswati will initiate a dialogue to listen to the grievances of the citizens.

He said, “There is no room for such anarchy in our society. As His Majesty King Mswati III has communicated a number of times, a dialogue will be initiated with all EmaSwati to find an allied solution to our political future.”

Meanwhile, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres reiterated the importance of allowing citizens to protest peacefully.

In a statement on Monday, he urged the government to ensure that “security forces act in conformity with relevant international human rights standards.”

It added that the UN boss is following with “concern the ongoing developments in Eswatini, including the recent deployment of armed security forces at various schools, reports of excessive use of force in response to student demonstrations, and the indefinite closure of schools. This affects adversely children and young people.”

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