Opposition leader killed in Eswatini after intelligence ties to Russia report

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Opposition leader killed in Eswatini after Russian intelligence link report

A prominent opposition politician and human rights lawyer has been assassinated in Eswatini. Human rights activists report that he was killed on the orders of the government. This happened on the eve of Lavrov's visit to the kingdom.

The head of the opposition in Eswatini, Tulan Maseko, was killed on the eve of the first visit of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to this country. Both mercenaries based in South Africa and the secret intelligence of the king of this country, which is connected with Russia, are suspected of being involved in the murder of the media. Law enforcers frankly point to the government of the king.

What is known about the murdered opposition leader

Maseko was a leading human rights lawyer and columnist in Eswatini who had a pending legal action with King Mswati III over the monarch's decision to rename the country Eswatini because he did not abide by the constitution. Maseko was also the founder of the Multi-Stakeholder Forum (MSF), a coalition of opposition parties, associations and churches.

In 2014, he and The Nation editor Bheki Mahubu were imprisoned for contempt of court over critical articles government and the judiciary.

Thulani Maseko was shot dead on the evening of January 21 in his house, shot through the window. The government expressed condolences to the family, saying that Maseko's death was a “loss to the nation” and police were looking for the killers. However, law enforcement officials blame the government for his murder.

Somehow, the startling news that Thulani Maseko was shot in cold blood did not come as a surprise. A relentless and fearless human rights lawyer, an outspoken critic of the regime in his beloved Eswatini, Tulan has suffered at the hands of a careless regime for far too long. No one is fooled by the government's cynical message of condolence,
freedom under law said.

Maseko was killed just hours after the king challenged activists fighting to overthrow Africa's last absolute monarchy. And shortly before Lavrov was supposed to come to the country.

These people started the violence first, but when the state cracks down on them for their actions, they make a lot of noise, accusing King Mswati of bringing in mercenaries, the king said.

The European Union called for the capture of the killers and expressed “serious concern” about the situation in Eswatini. Europe also called on the authorities to urgently start “an inclusive dialogue… on the path to national reconciliation, respect for human rights and the rule of law and, in the end, to a strong peace.”

The US Embassy in Mbabane also expressed “deep sadness” and expressed “deepest condolences to the family, friends and fans of Mr. Maseko around the world.”

The oppositionist could have been killed by mercenaries trained by Russia

Last week, the Swaziland Solidarity Network (SSN) said the king had hired mercenaries, mostly white Afrikaners from neighboring South Africa, to help Eswatini security forces quell growing opposition his regime. And Russia is involved in the training of these mercenaries.

In addition, the SSN found that King Mswati's secret state intelligence officer was trained in Russia. Announcer Gwebu studied law at the University of Eswatina in 2003, and then he was sent to Russia for intelligence training.

Lavrov arrived in Eswatini and spoke about cooperation between countries

Amid loud statements about cooperation between Russia and the intelligence mercenaries who killed the oppositionist, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov arrived in Eswatini. He openly stated that Russia is counting on the support of the countries of the African Union in the dialogue with the West over the war in Ukraine. “Russia is ready to consider Eswatini's applications on any issues related to ensuring the security of this country.”

In order to further fraternize with the King of Eswatini, Putin invited him to the Russia-Africa summit in St. Petersburg.

Russia and Eswatini are interested in concluding an agreement on the foundations of friendship and cooperation, work on it can actually be completed in 2024,” Lavrov said.

Also, the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry said that Russia and Eswatini will send a general request to the UN to find a quick way to supply the kingdom with Russian fertilizers free of charge.

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