Swazi king ends forum with no reform commitmentBy AFP | Sunday, August 12 2012 at 10:27
Swazi King Mswati III on Saturday closed a forum where his subjects called for democratic reforms, promising "expert" reviews but making no formal commitments.
"Experts" would be asked to solve the issues raised, Mswati told some 13,000 people who gathered at his royal palace in Ludzidzini, north of the capital Mbabane.
He discouraged public protests, saying the peace-loving Swazis believe in dialogue as opposed to "fighting each other".
The king promised to review a 2010 law that gave members of parliament a 30 percent salary hike.
But at the same time he urged teachers on strike for a salary raise to return to work after nearly seven weeks.
Mswati made no comment on calls to lift the ban on political parties.
Opposition and rights groups have slammed the forum, known as Sibaya, as an empty move designed to ease tensions but with no formal power in Africa's last absolute monarchy.
Protests have grown since last year in the traditionally peaceful kingdom, which is bordered on three sides by South Africa.
The country's problems are partly blamed on Mswati's extravagant lifestyle, supporting his 13 wives each in her own palace and high-flying international shopping trips, all paid for with state funds.
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