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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 April, 2004, 09:53 GMT 10:53 UK
Anger over Swazi king's birthday
King Mswati III
King Mswati III: Criticised for extravagance
A huge party to mark the Swaziland king's 36th birthday has been criticised as a big waste of money.

On Monday, 10,000 guests gathered in the national football stadium for the event hosted by Africa's last absolute monarch, King Mswati III.

Critics say the country, ravaged by Aids and unemployment, could ill afford the estimated $600,000 cost of the do.

Opposition leader Mario Masuku, told the BBC he thought the government should have been more sensitive.

"The king could have had a private party of his own. The money comes from the tax payer," said the president of the banned Pudemo party.

The day was a public holiday and the event was shown live on national television for those unable to attend the party.

"Everybody has the right to utilise his own hard-earned resources for his enjoyment," he told the Network Africa programme.

"However, the people of Swaziland can hardly afford a birthday party that costs so much," he said.

In recent months, King Mswati III has been heavily criticised for requesting large sums of public money to pay for new palaces and a personal jet.

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