MANZINI, ESWATINI – A student leader was arrested in eSwatini on Monday for destroying photos of King Mswati III, sparking protests in two towns.
Colani Maseko, president of the National Union of Students, is accused of removing and destroying photos of the king from a university campus, police said.
“Colani Maseko has been charged with sedition and malicious damage to property,” police spokeswoman Nosipho Mnguni told reporters.
Shortly after his arrest, small protests erupted in the commercial center of Manzini and in the capital, Mbabane. Riot police fired tear gas to disperse them, an AFP journalist testified.
The University of eSwatini has closed all three campuses.
Maseko called for the release of pro-democracy MPs Mduduzi Mabuza and Mthandeni Dube, who were arrested in June amid a series of anti-government protests.
eSwatini, formerly Swaziland, is the last absolute monarchy in Africa.
King Mswati enjoys displaying his wealth and giving his 15 wives lavish gifts.
And yet he reigns over one of the poorest countries in the world, where nearly two-thirds of the 1.2 million people live in poverty.
Back-to-back protests spanning months killed 46 people last year.
Neighbouring countries are trying to mediate between the palace and pro-democracy forces, but so far they haven’t even agreed on a venue.