King Mswati III of Swaziland.
King Mswati III of Swaziland.

In Swaziland, a leading member of the United Democratic Front party says the group is ready to engage in an “honest” dialogue with the government to bring about democratic reforms.

Swaziland's Flag
Swaziland's Flag

Mario Masuku said the group will continue the fight for democratic dispensation in Swaziland.

“Seeing that some of the political parties have been banned and there is no space for political activity, we then decided to come together with some civic societies to form a mass democratic movement…which takes into its fold the workers federation, the church… and of course the banned parties,” he said.

King Mswati III has said that political parties are no longer banned under the country's new constitution -- a claim opposition groups denied.

Opposition groups have often been accused of using violence as a tool to demand democratic reforms.

Swaziland's King Mswati III
King Mswati III

But the king expressed his government’s willingness to hold negotiations with opposition groups seeking reforms after several members of a banned pro-democracy group were arrested on treason charges.

Masuku said his group wants positive negotiations with the government.

"I believe that the first tool is that of engagement towards an honest constructive dialogue, failing which we will go on marches and rallies. We are aware that absolute monarch and similar regimes don’t give in very easily. But we are determined and we can already see fruit from solidarity internationally and of course locally,” Masuku said.

Analysts said that although a constitution was reintroduced in Swaziland, the level of power invested in King Mswati III is so significant that the country can be considered an absolute monarchy.