The Swaziland (eSwatini) Army fired on a United States embassy diplomatic vehicle and later tried to search it at a road block.
It happened during the recent prodemocracy protests in which as many as 40 people were reported killed by security forces, it was revealed on Thursday (8 July 2021).
The US Embassy in Mbabane confirmed the incident after reports circulated on the Internet.
On Twitter it said, ‘We can confirm shots were fired at an embassy vehicle on July 1 and we informed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) of the incident via diplomatic note—a standard form of communication btwn diplomatic missions & MFA. We are working closely with the MFA to address the incident.’
Previously the note from the US Embassy had circulated on the Internet. It read in part, ‘a soldier in the Eswatini Defence Forces shot three live rounds at a US diplomatic vehicle, with one round striking the vehicle.
‘Additionally, soldiers stopped the same vehicle at a second checkpoint, pointed weapons at the vehicle, and attempted to search the vehicle in violation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.’
The Swazi Government, which is not elected by the people but appointed by King Mswati III who rules as an absolute monarch, has made no public statement on the incident.
For weeks campaigners had been marching on local government offices to deliver petitions calling for democratic reform. Political parties cannot contest elections and groups advocating for democracy are outlawed under the Suppression of Terrorism Act.
In a separate statement released on Thursday, the US Embassy urged the King, the Government and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to ‘listen to the concerns of all stakeholders and to facilitate genuine dialogue to open the space for reform.’
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