- The parliament of Swaziland, controlled by King Mswati III, has approved of a constitution that retains total powers with the King. The Swazi opposition was not consulted in the process of defining the Kingdom's first constitution since 1978 and reject the document. The constitution upholds the ban on political parties.
King Mswati's father banned all parties and annulled the constitution in 1978 as there were popular demands for democratisation. For almost thirty years, the smal Kingdom has been ruled totally according to the will of its kings, who have made international headlines for their wasting of public funds. Meanwhile, a growing number of opposition voices have called for a new, democratic constitution.
Yesterday, an unanimous parliament in Mbabane approved of Swaziland's new constitution, which the King claims will end the country's constitutional crisis. The document has however emerged from a process of consultation from which all democratic constituencies were excluded. The opposition is not even represented in parliament as political parties are still banned in the country. Most MPs are appointed by the King.
The constitutional document upholds the ban on political parties and preserves power in the hands of the monarch. King Mswati III retains the right to dissolve parliament and government, dismiss and appoint members of the judiciary and act as head of both police and army, according to this new constitution.
The Swazi opposition today made it clear it would not accept the royal constitution. The adoption of this document was seen as an attempt to defuse the long-standing constitutional conflict in the country. However, the constitutional crisis would only be "further exacerbated" by its enactment, protesters said today.
International pro-democracy groups today joined the Swazi opposition in rejecting the constitution. The Copenhagen-based group Southern Africa Contact today appealed to the international community to "exert all possible pressure on the Swazi monarchy, including the imposition of sanctions specifically targeting the royal family." Such sanctions have already been proposed by the democratic movement in Swaziland.
The adoption of the constitutional document would lead to the "further disenfranchisement, poverty and powerlessness of the Swazi people," the Danish group said. "The great challenges facing the Swazi people can only be met by democratic policies that include and activate the people themselves," it added.
afrol News - It is called "financial inclusion", and it is a key government policy in Rwanda. The goal is that, by 2020, 90 percent of the population is to have and actively use bank accounts. And in only four years, financial inclusion has doubled in Rwanda.
afrol News - The UN's humanitarian agencies now warn about a devastating famine in Sudan and especially in South Sudan, where the situation is said to be "imploding". Relief officials are appealing to donors to urgently fund life-saving activities in the two countries.
afrol News - Fear is spreading all over West Africa after the health ministry in Guinea confirmed the first Ebola outbreak in this part of Africa. According to official numbers, at least 86 are infected and 59 are dead as a result of this very contagious disease.
afrol News - It is already a crime being homosexual in Ethiopia, but parliament is now making sure the anti-gay laws will be applied in practical life. No pardoning of gays will be allowed in future, but activist fear this only is a signal of further repression being prepared.
afrol News / Africa Renewal - Ethiopia's ambitious plan to build a US$ 4.2 billion dam in the Benishangul-Gumuz region, 40 km from its border with Sudan, is expected to provide 6,000 megawatts of electricity, enough for its population plus some excess it can sell to neighbouring countries.