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A country you’ve never heard of is burning: eSwatini’s anti-monarchy protests turn violent, but king has not fled (VIDEO)

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A demonstration in the landlocked African kingdom of eSwatini turned violent overnight with shops and cars burned as protesters demanded an end to the country’s absolute monarchy.

Videos and photos shared online on Tuesday showed a scene of devastation following a night of violent protests in eSwatini as protesters took to the streets amid persistent demands for constitutional reform and the end of King Mswati III’s absolute rule. 

On Tuesday morning, Sabelo Dlamini, a government spokesman, denied reports that the king had fled to South Africa overnight, claiming that Mswati III was still in the landlocked kingdom. 

Local news agencies say that protests stemmed from a government-issued decree last week that banned petitions calling for democratic reform. Reports suggest that the army was deployed on Monday night as lorries were looted, while stores and cars were burned. 

Soldiers have also killed several people, according to claims made online as the government looks to crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators. 

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Campaigners have repeatedly called on the king to make concessions to his people. The 53-year-old monarch, who denies being a dictator, has used the police and armed forces to put down previous uprisings.

Mswati III is known for his lavish lifestyle, which sharply contrasts to that of his people, who are largely subsistence farmers. He has 15 wives. It is reported that he has used the finances of eSwatini, formerly known as Swaziland, as his personal piggybank. In 2019, it was said that he had used public money to purchase 120 BMWs and 19 Rolls Royces for his family.

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