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Mario Masuku, opposition spokesman
"We are aware that repressive regimes have reacted in this fashion before"
 real 28k

Attorney General Phesheya Dlamini
"Unmitigated nonsense"
 real 28k

Monday, 25 June, 2001, 15:45 GMT 16:45 UK
Anger at Swazi media decree
King Mswati III
King Mswati rules as an absolute monarch
Opposition groups in Swaziland have condemned a controversial royal decree under which King Mswati III has the power to ban any book, magazine or newspaper.


Repressive regimes have reacted in this fashion before

Mario Masuku, opposition spokesman
The decree, which also prohibits anyone from impersonating or ridiculing the king, prevents legal challenges to any of the monarch's executive decisions.

Correspondents say the proclamation seems carefully designed to remove the sting from King Mswati's most vocal critics.

The Swazi King has ruled as an absolute monarch ever since Mswati's father, King Sobhuza II, banned political parties and scrapped the constitution in 1973.


This legislation seeks to clarify certain issues that have been of concern as to what's the exact position of the law

Attorney General Phesheya Dlamini
Mario Masuku, president of Swaziland's People's United Democratic Movement, told the BBC that "repressive regimes have reacted in this fashion before".

He said his movement would not cowed by the decree.

Swaziland's Attorney General Phesheya Dlamini has defended the decree and dismissed claims that it amounts to the creation of a state of emergency as "unmitigated nonsense".

Mr Dlamini said the "legislation seeks to clarify certain issues that have been of concern as to what's the exact position of the law".

Political fight

Philemon Lukhele of the Swaziland Solidarity Network told Reuters that the decree was "part of a continuous assault on any dissenting voice in the kingdom".

The decree also affects Swaziland's Guardian newspaper, which has been fighting a ban imposed on it in May. The decree means that it will no longer be able to challenge the decision.

Last year Swaziland was affected by a series of strikes led by the Federation of Trade Unions in protest at the political situation in the country.

Correspondents say little has changed with King Mswati ignoring international pressure to reintroduce a constitution.

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10 Jan 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Swaziland
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