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Monday, 7 August, 2000, 17:46 GMT 18:46 UK
Royal wedding for Swazi 'dropout'
Swaziland's King Mswati III is reported to have secretly wed his seventh wife.

The latest royal bride is Liphovela Senteni Masango, 18, who became the centre of controversy when a newspaper labelled her a "dropout".

King Mswati III
The king chooses his brides at the annual reed-dance
The king is said to have selected Liphovela during the annual "Umhlanga", or reed-dance ceremony - a ritual when would-be royal brides dance in front of the monarch, wearing scanty clothes and waving reeds.

The independent Times of Swaziland reported in September that Liphovela had been expelled from two schools for absenteeism and indiscipline.

'Immoderate'

The editor, Bheki Makhubu, was arrested on charges of defaming the king's intended, and forced to resign his post.

Since then he has been out on bail, and is due to answer the charges in the Mbabane senior magistrate's court this month.

A state prosecutor described the criticism as "immoderate".

Swaziland's Prime Minister Sibusio Dlamini denied allegations that his government and King Mswati were behind the decision to arrest Mr Makhubu.

Aids criticism

On the day he was arrested, Mr Makhubu also criticised the royal household in a South African newspaper for not screening the future bride for Aids, although he did not suggest she had Aids.

King Sobhuza II
The late King Sobhuza: More than 60 marriages
Multiple marriages are the norm among Swazi monarchs, with the Umhlanga ceremony providing the opportunity for annual weddings should the king so wish.

This year's reed-dance is due to take place within a few weeks.

King Mswati's father, the late King Sobhuza II, reigned for over 60 years, and by the time of his death in 1982 had more than 60 wives.

The large number of his offspring led to a lengthy argument over who was to succeed him - and it was not until 1986 that Mswati, then aged only 18, was confirmed as the new king.

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