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African bishops call for democratic reform in Swaziland

Catholic World News - July 26, 2011

The Catholic bishops of Southern Africa have joined in a statement denouncing corruption in the little kingdom of Swaziland.

Swaziland—a landlocked country nestled between South Africa and Mozambique—suffers from the world’s highest rates of AIDS and lowest life expectancy; the unemployment rate is 40%; 70% of the population lives on the equivalent of less than $6 a day; and a “state of emergency” that has been in effect for 37 years curbs political activity.

The bishops of Southern Africa have called upon King Mswati III to lift the “emergency” decree of 1973 and allow free political activity, to recognize the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and to begin the process of preparing a constitution that would ensure democratic government.

Cardinal Wilfrid Napier of Durban, South Africa, admitted in an interview with Vatican Radio that in light of the authoritarian outlook of the current regime, such reforms are highly unlikely. “It is going to take divine intervention to get that change of heart in the king and in his advisors and in those running the security apparatus,” the cardinal said.

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