Taiwan is monitoring the protests in Eswatini, its sole ally in Africa, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday, as the pro-democracy demonstrations turned violent.
The last absolute monarchy in Africa has been ruled by King Mswati III since 1986. The royal family has come under frequent criticism for their lavish lifestyle while most of the public live in poverty.
Media reports said the king had fled the country amid the unrest, but Eswatini Acting Prime Minister Themba Masuku on Tuesday last week said the king was still in the country.
Since protests erupted on Monday last week, the ministry and the Taiwanese embassy in Eswatini have been monitoring political developments in the country, the ministry said.
The ministry expressed deep regret over the use of violence and destruction of property, it said in a statement.
“The EU, Taiwan, UK and US Missions in Eswatini welcome the arrival of the Troika of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Organ for Politics, Defence and Security, and support its objective to facilitate broad based dialogue involving all stakeholders,” the missions said in a joint statement on Sunday.
“We encourage all parties to engage fully in dialogue. Respect for fundamental freedoms and the rule of law should be the guiding lights for all stakeholders as they work to resolve the situation peacefully and productively,” it said.
“The use of violence and the destruction of property are unacceptable and must be investigated vigorously and transparently, with perpetrators prosecuted according to the law,” it added.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) on Monday spoke by telephone with the king’s office director, Chief Mgwagwa Gamedze, expressing the hope that the country would soon return to stability with the help of the SADC.
Wu also thanked the Eswatini government for ensuring the safety of Taiwanese there and pledged to continue working with the country in its social reconstruction, as well as its fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, it said.
Since Taiwan and the country then known as Swaziland established diplomatic ties in 1968, Taipei has been assisting its ally’s development in areas such as public heath, agriculture, information and communications technology, as well as electricity and water infrastructure in remote areas, the ministry added.
Taiwan will continue to deepen its friendship with different parties in Eswatini through collaborations, it said.
Human rights organization Amnesty International on Friday said that at least 20 people have been killed by state security forces and at least 150 protesters have been hospitalized for injuries.
The organization called on Eswatini to end its crackdown and allow independent medical personnel to help the injured.
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