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Poor turnout for Swaziland strike

About 300 people took part on Wednesday in a second day of protest in Swaziland, heeding a call by trade unions pushing for democratic reforms in Africa’s last absolute monarchy.

The protesters marched through the streets of Manzini, Swaziland’s economic capital, closely watched by the police, who surrounded the crowd.

A few hundred protestors also turned out for the protest on Tuesday in nearby Mbabane, where thousands of police and military personnel had been deployed, manning roadblocks at the entrances to the capital.

Shop and business owners appeared to shrug off the call to join the two-day nationwide strike against King Mswati III’s rule.

Jan Sithole, secretary general of the umbrella Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions, said on Tuesday that he expected more people to turn out in Manzini.

Mswati, (36) who has ruled Swaziland by decree since he ascended to the throne in 1986 at the age of 18, has indulged in a lavish lifestyle in the Southern African country that is wracked by poverty and has the world’s highest HIV/Aids infection rate. – Sapa-AFP

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