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  Wednesday, November 25, 2020
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Swaziland, one of the world's last remaining absolute monarchies, voted
Swaziland, one of the world's last remaining absolute monarchies, voted in controversial polls to elect a new parliament, Russia's Vesti-24 TV channel reported on Saturday.

Friday's elections have already been called a "window dressing exercise designed to pull wool over the eyes of the international community" by the country's opposition force, the banned People's United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO).

Under pressure from the democratic opposition, King Mswati III, who reigns along with his mother, has agreed to change the constitution and grant its subjects freedom of association and political activity. He, however, refused to scrap a 35-year-old ban on political parties, and only independent candidates ran for parliament.

For the first time in the country's history, independent observers were allowed at the polls, where candidates competed for 55 seats in the House of Assembly, the lower chamber of the country's parliament. The other members of the 65-seat parliament are appointed by the king, the upper chamber, Senate, the country's prime minister and cabinet.

Swaziland is one of Africa's poorest countries, with the world's highest HIV infection rate of almost 40% and average life expectancy of little more than 30 years. The country has been under a state of emergency since 1973.


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