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Page last updated at 13:40 GMT, Thursday, 21 August 2008 14:40 UK

Swazi anger at royal wives' trip

Two of King Mswati's wives: Inkhosikati LaNgangaza (l) and Inkhosikati LaMasango (r)
Nine of King Mswati's wives left last week to go shopping

Hundreds of Swazi women have marched through the streets of the capital to protest about a shopping trip taken by nine of the king's 13 wives.

They chartered a plane last week to go to Europe and the Middle East.

The BBC's Thulani Mthethwa says the protesters handed in a petition to the finance ministry saying the money could have been better spent.

"We can't afford a shopping trip when a quarter of the nation lives on food aid," they chanted.

Swaziland, Africa's last absolute monarchy, is one of the poorest countries in the world and more than 40% of the population is believed to be infected with HIV.

We need to keep that money for ARVs
Protest slogan

The march was organised by Positive Living, a non-governmental organisation for women with Aids.

Our correspondent says there was a cross-section of women on the march from professionals to rural representatives.

"We need to keep that money for ARVs [anti-retrovirals]," was another slogan shouted by the women.

King Mswati III, 40, has been criticised in the past for requesting public money to pay for new palaces, a personal jet and luxury cars.

News of his wives' trip broke in the local press a day after they left, our reporter says.

Earlier this week, senior princes warned the women not to march, saying it defied Swazi tradition.


SEE ALSO
Swazi king picks young new wife
26 Sep 05 |  Africa
Ten BMWs for Swazi king's wives
14 Feb 05 |  Africa
Profile: Troubled King Mswati
04 Dec 01 |  Africa
Country profile: Swaziland
18 May 05 |  Country profiles

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