The second round of parliamentary elections will be held throughout Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) on Friday, September 21. While the first round passed off without incident, the run-up to the second round has been marked by strikes and protests. Police used water cannons and batons on September 18 to disperse demonstrations called by the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) in the capital Mbabane, Manzini (Manzini region), Nhlangano (Shiselweni region) and Siteki (Lubombo region). There are also unconfirmed reports of the use of live ammunition. There is currently no information available on potential injuries. Protest organizers have stated that related protests will continue until Thursday, September 20, on which day they plan to present the government with a petition demanding they reopen a probe into improper use of the state pension fund. A heavy security presence and possible violence is to be anticipated surrounding all demonstrations.
Multiple protests have taken place in Eswatini - Africa's last absolute monarchy - since April, led by public sector workers demanding higher wages and better education and health care. Protesters are also denouncing alleged improper use of public funds, which they claim is used to contribute to the royal family's lavish lifestyle.
Voters will head to the polls on Friday to elect 59 members of the country's House of Assembly. Political parties are banned, and the rules surrounding public gatherings are restrictive. The monarch appoints the prime minister and the government along with the Senate members and the remaining ten members of the House of Assembly. The first round of these elections, which was held on August 24, saw a very low turnout of 26.16 percent.
Individuals in Eswatini are advised to closely monitor developments, avoid all protests due to the risk of violence, and adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities.
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