Swazi pro-democracy group says 5 activists held

AP News
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Posted: Apr 11, 2011 2:07 PM
Swazi pro-democracy group says 5 activists held

Five activists have been arrested ahead of planned protests in Swaziland, a pro-democracy group said Monday.

Lucky Lukhele, spokesman for the Swaziland Solidarity Network, said in a statement Monday that four were arrested Sunday as they returned from South Africa to their homeland after a weekend planning meeting, and a fifth was arrested late Monday.

Lukhele said the protests will take place despite the arrests. In recent weeks, an online campaign has tried to rally support for the protests.

Observers have reported police putting up road blocks throughout the country in recent days, apparently planning to try to quash any demonstrations by keeping people from getting to Swaziland's capital, Mbabane, and the nearby economic hub of Manzini, each expected to be protest centers.

An anti-monarchy movement has gained momentum since the government declared a budget crisis and proposed freezing civil service wages. But many Swazis revere the monarchy even if they differ with the current king, portrayed by activists as autocratic and uncaring in a country suffering high rates of poverty and AIDS.