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UN urges restrain amid eSwatini protests

UN secretary general António Guterres on Tuesday called for restraint in eSwatini where anti-government protesters have clashed with the security forces during the past few days.Protests flared up in Africa’s last absolute monarchy last week, months after authorities loyal to King Mswati III quashed an earlier round of demonstrations using tear gas and water cannon.

The protests last week included demonstrations in schools by students chanting “Mswati must fall” and “Release our MPs,” a reference to two lawmakers arrested during anti-monarchy protests this year. 

King Mswati III responded by deploying the police and army to stop the demonstrations and ordered the indefinite closure of schools.

In a statement, the UN said Guterres is keenly “following with concern the ongoing developments in Eswatini, including the recent deployment of armed security forces at various schools, reports of excessive use of force in response to student demonstrations and the indefinite closure of schools.” 

“The Secretary-General reiterates the importance of enabling the people of Eswatini to exercise their civil and political rights peacefully,” the world body said. 

It said Guterres called upo the eSwatini government to ensure that security forces act in conformity with relevant international human rights standards, including the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

“The Secretary-General condemns all acts of violence and urges all parties and the media to refrain from disinformation, hate speech and incitement.”

The UN said it remained committed to working with the eSwatini protagonists to achieve a peaceful resolution.

Meanwhile, civil rights movement #NotInMyName on Tuesday demanded the closure of eSwatini’s embassy in Pretoria and called on the South African government to immediately intervene “by condemning the barbaric actions of the eSwatini regime against its own people”.

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