Pro-democracy protests in Eswatini continue in South Africa

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Pro-democracy protests in Eswatini continue in South Africa

Now king Mswati III of New York waits to address attendees during the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in Swaziland on September 29, 2015. REUTERS Carlo Allegri:

MBABANE, Oct. 14 Reuters : Pro-democracy protests flared up in Eswatini, months after officials loyal to the southern African nation's absolute monarch quashed earlier rounds of demonstrations using tear gas and water cannon

Asked for comment, government spokesman Sabelo Dlamini said he was not in the country and would respond on Friday.

Anger against King Mswati III has been building for years.

Campaigners say the 53 year-old ruler has consistently ignored calls for reforms that would nudge Eswatini, who changed its name from Swaziland in 2018, in the direction of democracy. The king denies accusations of autocratic rule and of using private money to fund the poor lifestyle that borders South Africa. In July he called protests against his rule satanic and said they had taken the country backwards. The protests this week included demonstrations in schools by students chanting Mswati must release and fall our MPs, a reference to two lawmakers arrested during anti-monarchy protests this year.

Some bus drivers block some of main roads in the city of Manzini.

Two local newspapers, the Times of Swaziland and the Eswatini Observer, displayed photographs of soldiers they said deployed to the streets on Wednesday, when a Reuters reporter also saw soldiers patrolling in Mbabane, the capital.

Reuters couldn't reach Army spokeswoman Tengetile Khumalo for comment.

Police spokesperson Phindile Vilakati said she was not authorised to comment in international media without the police commissioner's permission.

The Swaziland Association of Students has called for a nationwide protest on Friday.

However, in comments on national radio late Tuesday, the deputy prime minister warned college students to be careful about people using them to advance political ambitions.

Masuku's spokesperson Mihla Khumalo did not immediately respond to questions on Reuters seeking clarification of what the deputy prime minister had meant by his comments and how the government would respond to the latest protests.