MBABANE (AFP) — Swaziland's King Mswati III reappointed a staunch royalist to the post of prime minister Thursday, dashing hopes among activists for political reforms in Africa's last absolute monarchy.
The king named Barnabas Dlamini, 66, as prime minister, a position he left four years ago after seven and a half years in power, in a traditional ceremony held in the national cattle corral -- an important cultural and religious site.
Dlamini has been serving in the king's advisory council since his departure as prime minister in 2003. The council advises the king on statutory appointments and finance and chieftainship matters.
"The man is known for his strong-hand tactics and lack of respect for the rule of law. He was one of the longest-serving prime ministers who did his best to suppress political organisations and advance the strong rule of the monarchy," said Jan Sithole, leader of the Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions.
"We are appalled that he has made his way back, it means he impressed the king with his autocratic leadership style," Sithole told AFP.
On September 19, the impoverished landlocked southern African country elected parliamentarians, but no political parties were allowed to run.
Political organisations in Swaziland have been banned since 1973, and the king makes all key government appointments.
"We are bracing ourselves for hard times. As expected, the prime minister was not appointed on merit but on his level of allegiance to the king," said Mario Masuku, president of the banned Peoples Democratic Movement (Pudemo).
Barnabas Dlamini replaces Absalom Dlamini who stepped down after his term expired earlier this year.
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