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Columnist Mfomfo Nkambule continues to suffer harassment as result of his criticisms of the king

(MISA/IFEX) - The harassment of former member of parliament and cabinet minister, now opposition figure, Mfomfo Nkambule is continuing as traditional authorities summoned him to one of King Mswati's palaces where he was threatened because of his critical views on governance issues in Swaziland, the world's last remaining absolute monarchy. On 24 January 2009, Nkambule, a popular weekly columnist who writes for the privately-owned "Times of Swaziland" newspaper was, once again, asked to stop criticising King Mswati.

Nkambule, who, in accordance with traditional custom, belongs to a group called the King's regiment, was summoned by fellow regiment members and warned to stop his attacks on the King. He was reminded that as a member of the traditional regiment he is supposed to be loyal to the King and the status quo.

During the meeting, Nkambule was told to choose between being a member of the King's traditional regiment or pursuing his political career. He was told that he cannot criticise the King in his weekly column and still remain a member of the regiment. He was also told that members of the regiment are required to show loyalty to the King and refrain from undermining his authority.

After hours of questioning, Nkambule told his interrogators that he was going to consider their ultimatum. After the meeting, he declared that he was under significant pressure and that his weekly column might be discontinued.

"This could be my last article," Nkambule said of his article published in the "Times of Swaziland" on 26 January.

Nkambule bemoans the fact that he is now being forced to stop writing. "I am (being) forced to stop doing what I like most. Who will benefit from my silence? Who will be exploited as a result of my silence? I pray that the Lord Almighty gives me the wisdom to make the right decision for my country and king," he said.

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