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Swaziland's Former Prime Minister Tests New Constitution With His Party Registration


In Swaziland, the former prime minister and head of the oldest political party, Obed Dlamini, says he will officially register his party, the Ngwane National Liberatory Congress. The move will test Swaziland’s new constitution, which ends a royal decree prohibiting political opposition in the country.

At a meeting of the Ngwane National Liberatory Congress (NNLC), Obed Dlamini, the NNLC president and Swaziland's prime minister from 1989 to 1993, offered veiled criticism of King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa's last reigning absolute monarch. Observers and political parties are complaining that the new constitution, formulated by the Constitutional Review Commission, headed by King Mswati's brother, Prince Mangaliso Dlamini, remained vague on the key issue of legalizing political parties.

Speaking by phone to Voice of America reporter Peter Clottey, Obed Dlamini said, “It’s wrong to say we have gone contrary to the constitution, we have gone contrary to, should I say, defunct proclamation. The new constitution provides for the formation for organizations such as political parties. This is embedded in the bill of rights, which is a normal trend for all constitutions and therefore we say no problem. We are going ahead with the registration, we want to be legal; the constitution does give us our political rights through the bill of rights.”

Reacting to the notion that the political climate is not conducive for political parties, Obed Dlamini said, “That area would be interpreted in the courts of law. Because if they continue to violate the Constitution which is already in front of us and which is their product in fact, we will challenge that in court.”

He added that he is currently in the process of registering his political party and that his application is before the registrar.

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