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Thursday, 1 August, 2002, 17:01 GMT 18:01 UK
Swazi fury over jet purchase
King Mswati III
The King has stayed clear of the jet debate

Swaziland's MPs have called for their prime minister to resign after he announced the country was buying an expensive private jet for the King.

Swaziland is one of the countries in Southern Africa hit by severe food shortages and 33% of the population is HIV positive.

Senators and MPs say they were not consulted and have accused Prime Minister Sibusiso Barnabas Dlamini of stealing money from the nation after making a down-payment of $2.8m and pledging a further $2m for the jet before the end of the year.

Mr Dlamini argued that buying the jet was cheaper than hiring one, following the 11 September attacks on the United States.

Food aid

He said the security risk - heightened by the US attack and the high cost of chartering flights - was the reason for the purchase.

The multi-million dollar jet is expected to be delivered to the mountain kingdom at the end of the year, a time when it is estimated that 21% of its people will be in need of food.

Already, aid donated by the United States is on its way to help 144,000 Swazis in desperate need of food in the drought-stricken south-east of the country.

The King of Swaziland is considered to be an absolute monarch, in overall control of politics and the judiciary, but is not seen to be a dictator by the majority of the million people living in the country.

Senators described the purchase of the jet as theft and said they were considering a vote of no confidence in the prime minister.

See also:

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26 Jul 01 | Country profiles
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