Eswatini parliamentary elections commence with voting underway

Voting in legislative elections started peacefully on Friday morning in the kingdom of Eswatini which recently witnessed a spate of pro-democracy protests.

Polling stations opened at 7 a.m. local time (0500GMT) and will close at 7 p.m. (1700GMT).

More than half a million people have registered to cast their ballots in Africa’s last absolute monarchy where political parties are banned and candidates contest as independents.

Some 59 members of the lower house of parliament will be elected to give advice to King Mswati III, who has been in power since he inherited the crown from his father Sobhuza II in 1986.

The country witnessed several pro-democracy protests in 2021 demanding political reforms in the kingdom, formerly known as Swaziland, but security forces overturned the demonstrations, leading to deaths and injuries.

Police officers were seen manning polling stations as early as 6 a.m. as the Elections and Boundaries Commission was setting up polling booths.

Young and old voters were seen queuing, waiting for the polling to be opened. However, the late arrival of some candidates delayed the commencement of polls in some centers in Mbabane East Constituency.

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