Troops on patrol in Eswatini after violent protests
Troops patrolled the streets of the Eswatini capital, according to an AFP correspondent in the landlocked kingdom, as calm returned Friday after days of pro-democracy protests that reportedly turned deadly.
No gunshots were heard overnight in Mbabane and life was slowly returning to normal, but scores of people queued outside shops to buy basic supplies after cities and towns were shuttered by the demonstrations.
A local parliamentary constituency office was burnt in the village of Mayiwane, around 100 kilometres (60 miles) northeast of the capital, according to witnesses.
Petrol was in short supply and a fuel tanker was seen being escorted by a military van through Mbabane.
The government on Thursday said it had deployed the army “to regain the rule of law, peace and to protect all.”
Dissent has long been stifled in Africa’s last absolute monarchy, a small state of 1.3 million sandwiched between South Africa and Mozambique and previously called Swaziland.
But demonstrations demanding reform escalated radically this week as protesters defied a dusk-to-dawn curfew to take to the streets, looting and torching buildings linked to King Mswati III.
Pro-democracy activists and opposition groups have claimed that dozens of people have been killed by security forces during the unrest, which has been characterised by the burning of businesses and pillaging.
In a statement on Friday, three lawmakers said they condemned “the massacre and killings of over 60 unarmed citizens/protesters”.
The members of parliament, Bacede Mabuza, Magawugawu Simelane and Mthandeni Dube, also claimed that 200 people had been wounded.
Acting Prime Minister Themba Masuku on Thursday said the government was yet to receive an “official report about alleged deaths due to the riots and we will investigate these allegations.”
The unrest has raised concern with regional powerhouse South Africa and former colonial ruler Britain as well as the United States, which have urged restraint.
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