Eswatini’s King Mswati III on Friday appointed Cleopas Dlamini as the southern African nation’s new Prime Minister, the move coming after weeks of protests in a push for democracy.
Dlamini, previously the chief executive of the Public Service Pension Fund, replaces Ambrose Mandvulo Dlamini, who died in December 2020.
The announcement, streamed live online and on state radio on Friday, was made at an open public meeting known as Sibaya, usually only held once a year.
Pro-democracy campaigners called demonstrations to coincide with it.
Eswatini police fired teargas and water cannons at the anti-monarchy protesters, the head of a teachers' union said.
“Police have dispersed us. At the moment, they are driving us out of the town's outskirts,” Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT) Secretary-General Sikelela Dlamini said earlier from Manzini, Eswatini's second-largest city.
He also said shops and offices were closed.
The Swaziland Solidarity Network said Mswati’s army rounded up 18 protesters in Manzini in the last four hours.
“We hear eight of them are badly injured and are at Manzini police station,” SSN said in a statement.
Opposition leader Mlungisi Makhanya of Pudemo was reportedly one of those arrested.
Skirting around the sticky issues, Mswati said it was important that the Prime Minister be someone who is accessible and open to advice by the nation.
He asked the nation to fully support and stand behind the new PM.
The king also noted the importance of improving the local economy in light of a strain in the region.