BY SIPHO DLAMINI
MBABANE- The European Union, United States and the United Kingdom have welcomed the Head of State’s decision to open talks in the form of Sibaya, which is regarded as the country’s highest consultative meeting, following the unrest that besieged the country recently.
His Majesty King Mswati III has called the nation to the Ludzidzini Royal cattle byre, where it is hoped that the citizens would be allowed to express their views on national policy. The meeting has been scheduled for Friday morning.
Though the agenda has not been prescribed, it is envisaged that the riots which emanated from countrywide demonstrations where citizens were calling for political reform would take centre stage.
Following the call by His Majesty the King, the diplomatic missions issued a joint statement where they described the decision as opening an opportunity for citizens to express their views.
“It is critically important that His Majesty King Mswati III, the government of the kingdom of Eswatini and those seeking political reforms to commit to engaging in a comprehensive and inclusive dialogue with all stakeholders in the country, including political parties, women and youth movements, trade unions, and other civil society organisations and agree to accept the outcome of a national dialogue, ” read the statement.
The foreign missions noted that the country was at a critical juncture where broad consensus on how to move forward from the recent violence and division in the country was needed.
The diplomatic missions promised to monitor the developments and further hoped that the consultations will cover a broad spectrum of issues, including requests to open political space, which could be facilitated by a clear statement showing willingness to unban political parties and to guarantee media freedom and respect for human rights.
“We urge His Majesty the King to instruct all security forces to exercise maximum restraint in the application of force and end military deployments as soon as possible, and to recall the international human rights commitments and obligations of Eswatini, ” further read the statement.
The diplomatic missions went on to identify the forthcoming mission of the SADC Organ Troika as an important step towards dialogue and healing. They said SADC was expected to take all submissions from all relevant stakeholders, including a broad spectrum of civil society organisations, members of parliament and the opposition. The diplomatic representatives of the mission did not just end there but they also seized the opportunity to denounce the violence that was witnessed in the country recently.
“We condemn all acts of violence and reiterate our deep regret at the fatalities and injuries suffered in recent weeks. We call all parties to refrain from violence and seek a peaceful and speedy resolution, ” they said.
Again, they called for justice to be given space to investigate – independently and transparently – recent incidents that have resulted in loss of life, destruction of property, and disruption of livelihoods.
“All perpetrators, regardless of affiliation must be held accountable, ” emphasised the diplomatic missions.