jeudi, 23 novembre 2017
 

Swaziland : Commonwealth whitewashes Mswati dictatorship in election report

The report of the Commonwealth Observer Mission (COM) to Swaziland to monitor the national elections is yet another whitewash of the anti-democratic and dictatorial regime of King Mswati III, one of the world’s last absolute rulers.

The COM report presents the elections that took place in Swaziland in September this year as bona fide democratic elections. It fails to scrutinize in any way the fact that political parties advocating free and fair multi-party elections were banned from taking part in the elections, and that they are anyway banned from openly operating in the country.

The COM report represents a concerted effort by forces outside Swaziland, and with guidance from the UK government, among others, to sustain the Mswati regime and ward off thorough social and political change to bring about democracy, the equal distribution of wealth, and equal opportunity for all.

Both the Commonwealth (an offshoot of British imperial rule and a base for continued British interference internationally) and the London-based Chatham House depict Swaziland as a place where incremental democratic reform is taking place.

They either ignore or condemn the pro-democracy movement in Swaziland for its opposition to the undemocratic elections staged by the Mswati regime. The British have an interest in Swaziland for historical reasons and because Mswati is a close friend of the British royal family.

The only reasons the elections in Swaziland were performed were to revamp Mswati’s power base and to present a mask of democracy-in-the-making to a credulous – or cynical – international community.

The only reasonable conclusion the COM should have made after witnessing the electoral farce in Swaziland is that elections cannot be held in an environment where there is a total absence of democracy.

Instead, the Commonwealth mission mendaciously states in its report that it has abided by the International Declaration of Principles (IDPs) on election monitoring.

But the IDPs unequivocally define their applicability as relating to “genuine democratic elections” as an “expression of sovereignty” providing “the basis for the authority and legitimacy of government.”

The IDPs stress the need for election observation to monitor the “right to vote and the right to be elected.” The principles state that monitoring must scrutinise “discrimination based on political or other opinions.”

In the Swazi context, these principles underscore the undemocratic nature of the Mswati regime’s elections. It is deceitful of the Commonwealth Observer Mission to depict itself as bound by the International Declaration of Principles.

It is also deceitful of the Commonwealth to suggest that Swaziland has embarked on a process of democratisation, of which the elections are the latest, heart-warming manifestation.

The Communist Party of Swaziland and others in the pro-democracy movement have consistently pointed out that this process is an illusion, designed to maintain absolute control by Mswati and his family over all aspects of public life and the economy in Swaziland.

That the Commonwealth and Chatham House so consistently ignore or denigrate the pro-democracy movement in Swaziland is ample testimony as to where their true interests and sympathies lie.

It is time to put an end to the whitewashing of the Mswati regime by outside forces.

 
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