Friday, June 5, 2009


US Ambassador Maurice Parker says Swaziland has no right to be part of the international community and will only earn that right once it allows democracy in the kingdom.

Parker was reacting to the jailing of Thulani Maseko, Swaziland’s most prominent human rights lawyer, has been charged with sedition for comments he allegedly made at a May Day rally last month.

Maseko has been defending Mario Masuku, president of the banned People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), who has been in jail without trial since November last year.

Parker said he had spoken to government about the jailing of both Maseko and Masuku and told them he was not pleased with their arrests.

He urged the government to rethink its implementation of the 2008 Suppression of Terrorism Act.

Parker told a gathering to mark his departure as US ambassador to Swaziland, ‘We acknowledge that the Act may follow international models, but many of those models – our own included –had to be amended to ensure that the rights of citizens were not violated in the name of internal security.’

He said for Swaziland to be respected worldwide, it needed to respect the opinion expressed by citizens no matter who they were in society.

‘When citizens are allowed to express themselves without fear of reprisals, when those who may not be part of traditional structures can legally assemble to debate and have confidence that their views will be considered as valid alternatives by all those in authority, when all citizens can completely and peacefully participate in decision-making that affects their lives and the country’s development, and when the Swazi constitution becomes the absolute law of the land, Swaziland will take its place among states within the international community, and will be welcomed to take a seat within the millennium challenge corporation.’

Parker is leaving Swaziland after years to take up an appointment in Chicago, US.

I am sure the Swazi government will be glad to see the back of him since he has been an outspoken critic of the anti-democratic state of Swaziland which is ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.

He was attacked by members of the ruling elite in January 2009 when he pledged US support for those fighting for democracy in Swaziland.

Parker had said many pressure groups in Swaziland had trouble organising meetings, ensuring freedom of speech, or pursuing the right to assembly freely. He promised he would work with government and all pressure groups to ensure that the bottlenecks to free expression, freedom of association and full political determination are realised in the country.

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