Accessibility links

Swaziland Opposition Leader Elated to be Home After Imprisonment

Swaziland's main opposition leader has vowed to continue his demand for total democratic reforms shortly after being released Wednesday from jail on terrorism and sedition charges.

A judge released Mario Masuku, leader of the banned opposition PUDEMO party after acquitting him of all charges.

However, It is unclear if the government will appeal the judge's ruling.

Masuku was incarcerated in a maximum security prison after being accused of masterminding bombings of government buildings last year, a charge he denies.

Masuku told VOA that despite his long incarceration, he holds no grudge against Africa's last absolute monarchy.

"Naturally I am elated. I am now a free man after all these 340 days in a maximum security prison. I am elated to be with my wife and children," Masuku said.

He said there is no need to be angry with the monarchy.

"I do not feel aggrieved I hate nobody who has accused me of that. Instead, it is the system of governance which is undemocratic, un-participative, un-representative, and distorting our course," he said.

Masuku described his unwavering commitment for demanding democracy.

"I feel it is only my duty to exert more pressure and go to the finish," Masuku said.

He said despite the ban, he would uphold the principles of PUDEMO.

"Unfortunately, fighting as peaceful as possible within the condition for a democratic, un-nepotistic, un-racial Swaziland is an idea and the principle that I joined this party for. And as long as I still exist, it is the principle I will go along with," he said.

Masuku said there is room for both democracy and monarchy to exist side-by-side instead of the country's absolute monarchy.

"Really, there can be a multi-party democracy with a monarchy in place. But you can never have absolute monarchy and multi-party democracy. Those things cannot tie," Masuku said.

He said Swazis must have the right to choose their leader.