The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) has committed to responding “decisively” against the regme of King Mswati III if the brutality against protesters continues.
Eswatini, Africa’s last absolute monarchy, shut down the Internet for two hours Friday as pro-democracy marchers headed to the capital.
The shutdown came as images of the protests circulated on social and traditional media, including pictures of two people who said they had been injured by gunshots fired by security forces.
The Internet shutdown blocked social media completely for two hours, and left many services running very slowly afterwards.
Formerly known as Swaziland, Eswatini is ruled by King Mswati III, Africa’s last absolute monarch.
He owns shares in all of the country’s telecoms.
Unions, opposition parties, and student groups have joined the latest protests, which have run for more than two weeks.
Protesters have also closed roads leading to all borders in the tiny, landlocked nation. Soldiers were seen on the streets in main cities.
The latest demonstrations have mainly called for the release of two lawmakers arrested during pro-democracy protests earlier this year.
Civil society and opposition groups demonstrated in the largest cities Manzini and Mbabane in June, looting shops and ransacking business properties.
At least 28 people died as police clashed with protesters in some of the worst unrest in the southern African country’s history. The latest fatality came on Wednesday.
But at the root of all the protesters’ demands is an insistence on democratic reform.
The EFF has called on the South African government and African Union to reign on the king and his family, saying there should be consequences against a government that lifts up arms of war against its civilian population.
“We further call on the youth and students of ESwatini to intensify their struggle and shut down the regime of the Dlamini family until they negotiate a transition to popular democratic government or flee the country,” said the party in a statement on Friday.
“The battle cry of pro-democracy activists in ESwatini is loud enough to trigger the attention and actions of the international community against the imbecility of King Mswati and his family.
“The EFF commits to responding decisively against the regime of King Mswati soonest should the continued brutality against protesters not be stopped forthwith.”
Additional reporting by AFP