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THE WORLD | IN BRIEF / SWAZILAND

Vote for Parliament Held Amid Criticism

October 19, 2003|From Times Wire Services

Voters in Swaziland chose a new parliament in one of the world's last absolute monarchies, but democracy activists declared the process meaningless in a country where political parties are banned and King Mswati III rules by royal decree.

Turnout appeared to be light. The legislature, elected every five years, acts mainly as a rubber stamp for the Cabinet appointed by the king. Mswati, in power since 1986, has drawn fire over his appetite for multiple wives -- he is planning to marry his 12th -- luxury jets and his reluctance to democratize.

The country's 1.2 million people face chronic food shortages and one of the world's highest HIV infection rates.

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