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eSwatini - 2018 Elections

Although many SADC countries have adopted regular multiparty elections, there is some consensus that liberal democracy must blend in with African cultural practices and traditions as is the case with eSwatini, the last absolute monarch in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The Parliament of Swaziland (or Libandla) is bicameral, consisting of a lower chamber (the House of Assembly) and an upper one (the Senate). Some of the members of both chambers are elected, while the rest are appointed by the King.

Mswatis father, King Sobhuza II, suspended the countrys constitution in 1968, which gave absolute power to the monarchy and banned organised political opposition to royal rule. The Peoples United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), the best-known opposition group in the kingdom, along with other groups that advocate for democracy in the kingdom, are banned under the Suppression of Terrorism Act.

The expected date of next election is 21 September 2018. Participation in the traditional sphere of governance and politics takes place predominantly through chiefdoms. Chiefs are custodians of traditional law and custom, report directly to the king, and are responsible for the day-to-day running of their chiefdoms and maintenance of law and order. Although local custom mandates that chieftaincy is hereditary, the constitution, while recognizing that chieftaincy is usually hereditary and is regulated by Swazi law and custom, also states the king may appoint any person to be chief over any area. As a result many chieftaincies were nonhereditary appointments, a fact that provoked land disputes, especially at the time of the passing and burial of chiefs.

Political parties are banned from taking part in elections. Candidates can, for example, currently not wear and display the symbols and slogans of the political party to which they belong, or advocate for the political partys policies and programs. These might seem like obvious components of an elections campaign, but the Eswatini government has argued that the countrys electoral system is tinkhundla-based and founded on individual merit as basis for election to public office, and as such there was no place for political parties within the system. There are roughly 10 political parties in eSswatini.

Mswatis subjects are allowed to pick 55 of the 65 members of the House of Assembly; the other 10 are appointed by the King. None of the 30 members of the Swazi Senate are elected by the people; the King appoints 20 members and the other 10 are appointed by the House of Assembly.

The constitution of Swaziland practices the first-past-the-post. This means that, the election of persons to any chamber of Parliament of Bucopho shall be by secret ballot at both primary and secondary levels and any other level in accordance with the First-Past-the-Post system in which the person receiving the highest number of votes is elected.

There were numerous media reports of violence at polling centres on election day 21 September 2018. Outbursts of violence started as early as noontime which intensified in the evening with the counting of votes. Swaziland's Commission on Human Rights and Public Administration Integrity (CHRPAI) called for an investigation into the violence that occurred during the election.

Prime Minister Sibusiso Barnabas Dlamini of eSwatini, formerly known as Swaziland, has died at the age of 76, the national television announced 29 September 2018. The cause of Dlamini's death in a clinic in Manzini, in the middle of the tiny country, was not given. It came a week after largely symbolic legislative elections were held in the landlocked neighbor of South Africa, a monarchy ruled by King Mswati III.

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