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Last Updated: Friday, 28 January 2005, 13:54 GMT
Swazi king chooses wife number 13
King Mswati III
King Mswati has 24 children
Swaziland's King Mswati III has chosen a 17-year-old girl to be his 13th wife at a traditional ceremony.

His last bride - a teenage beauty queen who dropped out of school to become a princess - was chosen four months ago.

King Mswati's latest fiancee has travelled to South Africa to undergo an HIV test, a princess told the BBC.

Africa's last absolute monarch has been criticised for having so many wives in a country with one of the world's highest rates of HIV infection.

'No to more palaces'

While most Swazis live in poverty, the government is spending 100 million emalangeni ($16m) to refurbish palaces for his 10 official wives.

Incwala harvest ceremony
The Incwala harvest ceremony is held every year
In line with Swazi tradition, the three royal fiancees who have not yet fallen pregnant are not recognised as wives. At 36, King Mswati has 24 children.

Xolile Magagula will be presented to the Swazi public once she passes the HIV test and is blessed by the Queen Mother.

Earlier this week, trade unions held a general strike to protest at a new constitution, which they said would entrench the king's powers.

"No to more palaces, cars and parties," read one placard.

Last year, the king spent $500,000 on a luxury Maybach car which has a television, DVD player, 21-speaker surround-sound system, fridge and sterling silver champagne flutes.

Profile: Troubled King Mswati
04 Dec 01 |  Africa
Country profile: Swaziland
10 Jan 01 |  Country profiles

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