MANZINI, Eswatini: Africa’s last absolute monarchy, Eswatini, banned protests Thursday when regional mediators landed in the kingdom amid rumbling pro-democracy demonstrations.
A protester died Thursday in hospital from gunshot wounds he sustained the day before when security forces opened fire on a protest, according to unions.
At least 30 health workers have been treated for gunshot wounds, the nurses union said.
Railway workers led new protests in the former Kingdom of Swaziland on Thursday.
“Due to the spate of violent cases during the protests, I prevented all city and town councils from issuing permits to hold protests,” said the Minister of Public Works, Prince Simelane, at a press conference.
Internet access was limited, Facebook was completely shut down for a second day.
“The images coming from Eswatini are very disturbing indeed, and we can see that the political temperature is very hot,” said Jeff Radebe, head of mediators brought into the country from the 16-strong Southern African Development Community were sent to the South African public broadcaster.
The Swaziland Democratic Nurses Union said in a statement that nurses and other workers gathered in a public park in Mbabane “faced an unprecedented show of force by the police and army.”
“They were brutally dispersed and scattered all over the capital. When they were running, they were shot with live ammunition. “
The 30 injured were among the more than 80 injured who were reported on Wednesday in protests for democracy that flared up across the country.
Radebe said the “Kingdom’s problems are very complex” and the team “went there with an open mind and made sure we heard all views so that at the end of the day the people of Eswatini … solution.”
The recent flare-up of demonstrations has lasted more than two weeks, led by students, officials and transport workers.
King Mswati III is Africa’s last absolute monarch who enjoys displaying his wealth and showering his 15 wives with lavish gifts.
Yet he rules one of the poorest countries in the world, where almost two thirds of the population live in poverty and a quarter of adults are infected with HIV.

In a statement, the Swaziland Communist Party said the situation at the largest government hospital in Mbabane resembled a “war zone” on Wednesday.
The hospital floors were “soaked with blood,” the party said, adding that police “broke into the hospital and even shot nurses while they were treating the injured, making the situation worse”.
The nurses union said security forces shot at nurses well into the evening even when they were on night shifts in hospitals.
“These bloodthirsty idiots, the brood of vipers, are obviously determined to kill nurses and the nation in defense of an ailing government,” the union said, urging members not to treat injured soldiers or police officers.
Five high school students arrested during protests were charged with terrorism on Thursday for their role in boosting democracy. The prosecution charged them with burning down a police station.
At least 30 people have died since June in some of the worst civil unrest in the South African country’s history.

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