Russia offered Tuesday to the kingdom of Eswatini in particular to train its security personnel, a few days after the assassination of a lawyer and pillar of the opposition in the last absolute monarchy of Africa, which outraged the international community.
“Russia is ready to help Eswatini train its security personnel and increase its food production,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on a visit to the small southern African country after Africa from the neighboring south.
Fifty members of the kingdom’s security personnel are already in training at Russian universities, he said after a meeting with the prime minister.
Prominent lawyer and respected rights defender, Thulani Maseko was shot dead on Saturday at his home about 50 km from the capital Mbabane.
Founder of a coalition of opposition parties, associations and churches (Multi-Stakeholder Forum, MSF), he was imprisoned in 2014 for criticizing the regime and then released a year later.
Hours before his assassination, King Mswati III challenged his opponents: “People shouldn’t complain about mercenaries killing them. These people started the violence first.”
In June 2021, pro-democracy demonstrations enamelled with violence had left several dead.
The UN has called for an investigation into the assassination, the European Union has expressed its “great concern”.
“As a matter of principle, we do not interfere in the political situation of any country whatsoever”, declared the head of Russian diplomacy, in response to a question on the political crisis in Eswatini, saying that he had come to “promote good bilateral relations.
The king has the power to dissolve parliament and the government. He appoints the judges and commands the police and the army. Political parties, theoretically authorized, cannot participate in the elections, the next of which are scheduled for this year.
The small landlocked country in South African territory has been governed since 1986 by Mswati III, criticized for leading an extravagant lifestyle and regularly violating human rights.