Mbabane: European Parliament (EP) has called upon the government of Eswatini to respect their commitment and launch, without delay a comprehensive dialogue with all effected stakeholders to work towards national reconciliation.
In a statement issued on the 16th of February 2023, the EP has also resolved for a review or suspension of financial aid to Eswatini. The European Union (EU) provide €32 million (approx. 575 million SZL) for the period 2021-24 for development projects in the Kingdom of Eswatini. The EU funding is focusing on priority area of Human Development and Social Inclusion, with the goal of assisting the emaSwati youth.
Eswatini was one of the countries discussed when Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) adopted a resolution on the respect for human rights in global hotspots. The other countries were Russia and Equatorial Guinea.
The parliamentarians expressed concern at the deteriorating political environment in Eswatini following last month’s killing of human rights and trade union lawyer Thulani Maseko.
“The resolution calls on the EU to review or suspend support programs to Eswatini if funds risk being used for activities that violate human rights,” the parliament said.
A harsh critic of King Mswati III’s government, Maseko was killed by unknown gunmen at his home in Bhunya in late January, just hours after the king threatened members of the country’s pro-democracy movement.
The lawyer’s death has sparked calls for political reforms in Eswatini. According to the European Parliament, MEPs want the Eswatini authorities “to start a comprehensive dialogue with opposition immediately.”
“They urge the authorities to launch a comprehensive dialogue with its opponents without delay, with the aim of national reconciliation and lasting peace under the mediation of the Southern African Development Community (SADC),” the parliament said.
The MEPs called for an investigation into the harassment, violence and pressure against other pro-democracy and human rights activists, “as well as the alleged recruitment of mercenaries to help the country’s security forces repress opposition.”
“MEPs call for the immediate release of all political prisoners, whose incarceration they consider a clear contravention of the Cotonou Agreement.”