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Results from low-key parliamentary elections in Swaziland were
trickling in yesterday, with pro-democracy groups claiming success
in their call for voters to stay away from the polls in Africa's
last absolute monarchy.
"The counting has been delayed and it is impossible from this
office to tell when the final results would be available," said
Swaziland's chief electoral officer Robert Thwala.
"The final number of people who voted could be only available as
late as tomorrow," he said, but did not give reasons for the
By 14:00 GMT Thwala said he had received results from only 18
Election officials started counting votes earlier yesterday to
choose 55 members to the country's 65-seat lower House of Assembly,
while ten others will be appointed by King Mswati III, who rules
the tiny country by decree and where parliament serves mainly as an
advisory body to the king.
Government officials said they were satisfied with the turnout in
rural areas but admitted that many stayed away in the cities, while
officials of Swaziland's powerful trade union and its unofficial
opposition claimed their call for a boycott had been
Andrias Mathabela, Swaziland's acting deputy prime minister on
Saturday admitted that the low voter turn-out in the cities may
have been influenced by the call by pro-democracy groups and the
country's powerful labour federation.
But Thwala denied this, saying yesterday that "many voters in the
cities went to rural areas because that's were they came from and
would rather vote for people they know".
On Friday the Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions (SFTU), which
claims a membership of around 83 000 members out of a total of 110
000 workers in the country, called for a total boycott of the
It was supported by Swaziland's banned opposition party, the
People's United Democratic Movement (Pudemo), a small but vocal
minority group in the kingdom.
Jan Sithole, SFTU secretary-general said: "The system of these
elections will not usher in any meaningful change that the Swazi
"The number of people who attended in yesterday (Saturday's)
elections clearly shows that many of our people stayed away from
Bonginkosi Dlamini, Pudemo secretary-general said he believed
citizens heeded the call for the boycott.
"I'm very happy that the people of Swaziland heeded our call for a
poll boycott," Dlamini said.
He said: "I don't have a full report but in the major areas where
we have sent our people to monitor elections, we are satisfied that
the people understood what was meant by the call to boycott (the
The candidates elected in 55 constituencies in the southern African
kingdom will take their seats in the House of Assembly, Thwala said
voting had been suspended in three of the constituencies because of
pending court cases.
King Mswati III will appoint another 10 seats to the House of
Assembly following the elections, making for a total of 65
The upper house, the Senate, will consist of 30 seats, of which ten
are chosen by the House of Assembly and 20 others - at least eight
of them women - will be appointed by the king.
Several organisations including the South African Development
Community (SADC) and the Commonwealth sent teams of experts to
observe the elections. – Sapa-AFP.