Eswatini announces parliamentary election results under monarch’s rule

By Lunga Masuku

MBABANE (Reuters) – Fifty one men and eight women were elected to Eswatini’s parliament in last week’s election, with a strong showing for pro-royalist candidates in results expected to make little difference to the politics of Africa’s last absolute monarchy.

The southern Africa nation has been ruled by King Mswati III since 1986, when he inherited the crown from his father, Sobhuza II. It went to the polls on Friday to elect politicians who effectively function as the king’s advisers with no executive power. The electoral commission published the results on Monday.

Political parties are banned in the country of about 1.2 million people, but individual candidates are allowed to run for seats in the House of Assembly every five years.

Of the parliamentarians elected in Eswatini, which changed its name from Swaziland in 2018, most were seen as being loyal to the king and also included former journalists and teachers.

In addition to the 59 elected members of parliament, the king will appoint 10 more to the House of Assembly at his discretion, which will include five women.

An African Union-led election observation mission said women continued to be underrepresented in parliament.

Many Swazis are reluctant to criticise the 55-year-old king despite rising anger that fuelled violent pro-democracy protests in 2021.

Mswati has also been accused by pro-democracy campaigners of consistently evading calls for meaningful reforms that would push the country towards democracy.

(Reporting by Lunga Masuku, Writing by Bhargav Acharya; Editing by Tim Cocks and Alison Williams)