The Commonwealth is to continue to pressure Swaziland to democratise and allow political parties to contest elections in the kingdom.
It is also urging a review of the kingdom’s constitution to ensure that the country meets international standards of democracy.
This was confirmed during a week-long visit by a Commonwealth mission to Swaziland.
The chair of the mission the special envoy Bakili Muluzi told media on Thursday (9 July 2015) that after the last Swazi national election in 2013, Commonwealth observers made a number of recommendations and he hoped to ensure that these recommendations were in force in time for the next election, due in 2018.
King Mswati III rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. Political parties are banned by the kingdom’s constitution from taking part in elections. Groups that advocate for multi-party democracy are banned under the Suppression of Terrorism Act.
In its report on the 2013 elections, the Commonwealth observers recommended that measures be put in place to ensure separation of powers between the government, parliament and the courts so that Swaziland was in line with its international commitments.
They also called on the Swazi Constitution to be ‘revisited’.
The report stated, ‘This should ideally be carried out through a fully inclusive, consultative process with all Swazi political organisations and civil society (needed, with the help of constitutional experts), to harmonise those provisions which are in conflict. The aim is to ensure that Swaziland’s commitment to political pluralism is unequivocal.’
It also recommended that a law be passed to allow for political parties to take part in elections, ‘so as to give full effect to the letter and spirit of Section 25 of the Constitution, and in accordance with Swaziland’s commitment to its regional and international commitments’.
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