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Friday, 18 October, 2002, 15:14 GMT 16:14 UK
MPs down Swazi king's jet plan
King Mswati III
King Mswati is currently on an overseas trip
Swaziland's parliament has refused to approve the purchase of a $50m luxury plane for King Mswati III, according to the Times of Swaziland.

MPs voted against the government request by 25 to 16 after four hours of intense debate.


You cannot talk of retrenching civil servants while on the other hand are paying millions for a private jet

MP Marwick Khumalo
Parliamentarian Marwick Khumalo, the king's cousin, said that 140,000 Swazis were currently facing starvation out of a population of about one million, according to the French news agency, AFP.

Much of Southern Africa, including Swaziland, is currently suffering from severe food shortages after failed harvests.

It is also badly affected by Aids, with up to 33% of the population HIV positive.

Car horns

"We will never subject this country to boycotts, strikes or chaos. You cannot talk of retrenching civil servants while on the other hand are paying millions for a private jet," Mr Khumalo said.

MPs celebrated their victory by hooting their car horns all the way from the parking lot to the parliament gate, the Swazi Times reports.

Lear jet
Swazi down payment already paid

The government has already made a $2.8m down-payment for the 19-seater Bombardier Global Express long-range jet and it was due to be delivered in November.

Some MPs attacked the government for releasing this money before seeking parliament's approval.

The Swazi king is an absolute monarch and political parties are banned.

AFP reports that King Mswati has the powers to overrule parliament but The Times of Swaziland says that he has announced that parliament would have the final say on whether or not to proceed with the purchase.

The king is currently on a trip to Thailand, reports AFP.

See also:

01 Aug 02 | Africa
17 Oct 02 | Africa
06 Jun 02 | Africa
06 Feb 02 | Africa
04 Feb 02 | Africa
04 Dec 01 | Africa
12 Nov 01 | Africa
26 Jul 01 | Country profiles
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