UK Foreign Office Minister Mark Simmonds told the House of Commons yesterday (30 October 2012), the ‘UK continues to urge the Government there [Swaziland] to ensure that all political parties are able to operate freely and participate in the elections scheduled for September 2013. We believe that the people of Swaziland want political parties and we call on the Government there to respect their wishes.’
Simmonds was responding to concerns raised by MP James Duddridge that the UK was not doing enough to encourage King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, ‘to be a little more sympathetic and tolerant of the existence of political parties’.
Simmonds added, ‘I can also confirm that our high commissioner will be visiting Swaziland in November to participate in discussions and will use the opportunity to underline the UK’s concerns about the current political and economic environment and press for reform.’
Duddridge, at one time worked at Barclays Bank in Swaziland with Mario Masuku, the President of the People’s United Democratic Party (PUDEMO), an organisation banned by King Mswati.