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Tuesday, 12 November, 2002, 14:16 GMT
Swazi top law man refuses summons
Swazi reed dance (photo: Chris Hughes)
Traditionalists and judiciary on collusion course
A magistrate in Swaziland is still trying to serve a summons against the country's attorney general after he failed to appear in court for a third time to answer sedition charges.

He was charged after ordering the dismissal of three judges hearing a case about a girl allegedly abducted to marry the king.

King Mswati (photo: Chris Hughes)
King denies support for attorney general's action
The director of public prosecutions said the action by Phesheya Dlamini had caused the Swazi Government to be viewed with contempt and hatred at home and abroad.

But the attorney general, who is appointed by the palace, said he was acting on instructions.

Scapegoat

Legal observers believe he was following orders from the palace and has been made a scapegoat because of the bad publicity surrounding the case.

King Mswati has denied sending Mr Dlamini to intimidate the judges.

It is the latest twist in a case which has raised tensions between Swazi traditionalists and advocates of change.

In the original landmark case, Lindiwe Dlamini was seeking the return of her 18-year-old daughter who, she alleged, was abducted to become the 10th wife of King Mswati III.

However she has now effectively dropped her court challenge and said her daughter seemed resigned to her fate.

The daughter, Zehna Mahlangu, has been made a royal fiancee in a traditional ritual.

Abandon polygamy

She was chosen by the king at the annual reed festival, when girls dance bare-breasted in front of the king.

The case called into question the king's absolute powers and brought the royal family into conflict with the judicial system.

The king's first wife, Queen LaMbikiza
King Mswati's first wife is a practising lawyer

Judges at the high court had refused to obey an order to either drop the case or resign.

Chief Justice Stanley Sapire had said the attorney general had formally apologised to the court after he and other officials had ordered the judges to drop the case or face dismissal.

King Mswati is above the law but has come under pressure in recent years to introduce democratic reforms and abandon polygamy.

According to official biographers, King Mswati's father, Sobhuza, had scores of wives during his 61-year reign, which ended when he died in 1982.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Alistair Leithead
"It started as a case of the mother against the king"
See also:

05 Nov 02 | Africa
01 Nov 02 | Africa
23 Sep 02 | Africa
03 Jun 02 | Africa
12 Nov 01 | Africa
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