Two prodemocracy leaders in Swaziland Mario Masuku and Maxwell Dlamini who have been in jail on remand for more than 14 months were granted bail by the Swazi Supreme Court on Tuesday (14 July 2015).
Masuku is president of the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) and Dlamini secretary-general of PUDEMO’s youth wing, SWAYOCO. Both organisations are banned under the kingdom’s Suppression of Terrorism Act (STA).
Both men were arrested at a May Day rally in 2014 and charged with sedition under the STA. They are accused of making statements in favour of the PUDEMO.
Swaziland is ruled by King Mswati III, as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. Political parties are banned from taking part in elections and the King chooses government members. All prodemocracy activities are banned.
The European Union in Swaziland reported on Tuesday that Masuku and Dlamini were finally released on bail that day following their appeal against the High Court’s decision to repeatedly deny them bail.
The EU reported on its Facebook page, ‘The two who were arrested in May 2014 on charges of sedition and terrorism and had remained in detention since, were granted bail after the Crown said it was not opposing the appeal.
‘However, this was not before the Supreme Court judges expressed displeasure at the lengthy detention of the two yet bail was a constitutional right.
‘The two were then released on E12 000 (US$1,200) bail each with E3 000 (for each) payable in cash and the rest as surety.
‘Their release was met with jubilation from family and friends as well as PUDEMO members who immediately burst into political struggle songs and toy-toyed in celebration within the High Court premises.’
In May 2015 European Parliament members called on King Mswati to free all political prisoners in the kingdom or face the prospect of economic sanctions.
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