US News King who renamed his country facing legal fight

14:55  08 july  2018
14:55  08 july  2018 Source:   news.sky.com

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An African king who changed the name of his country without warning or consultation is facing a legal challenge. King Mswati III renamed Swaziland to eSwatini on the 50th anniversary of its independence - with its new name meaning "land of the Swazi" in Swati language.

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Swaziland King Mswati III arrives to attend the inauguration of new Nigerian President at the Eagles Square in Abuja, on May 29, 2015 © Getty Swaziland King Mswati III arrives to attend the inauguration of new Nigerian President at the Eagles Square in Abuja, on May 29, 2015

An African king who changed the name of his country without warning or consultation is facing a legal challenge.

King Mswati III renamed Swaziland to eSwatini on the 50th anniversary of its independence - with its new name meaning "land of the Swazi" in Swati language.

However, a human rights activist believes the move is against the country's constitution, and he has taken his case to the High Court.

Four of King Mswati's 15 wives react during the last day of the Reed Dance at Ludzidzini Royal Palace in Swaziland, August 31, 2015. During the eight day ceremony, virgin girls cut reeds and present them to the queen mother. The Reed Dance also allows Swaziland's King Mswati III to choose a wife if he wishes. Mswati currently has 15 wives. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko © Reuters Four of King Mswati's 15 wives react during the last day of the Reed Dance at Ludzidzini Royal Palace in Swaziland, August 31, 2015. During the eight day ceremony, virgin girls cut reeds and present them to the queen mother. The Reed Dance also allows Swaziland's King Mswati III to choose a wife if he wishes. Mswati currently has 15 wives. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

Thalane Maseko said: "What law did he use when he changed the name of the country?

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"The name of the country is spelled out in the constitution and the constitution is the supreme law.

"Let us ask ourselves if the king can single-handedly amend the constitution by legal notice."

Mr Maseko is not the only one upset by the king's move.

Swazilands King Mswati III addresses the 72nd Session of the United Nations General assembly at the UN headquarters in New York on September 20, 2017.  / AFP PHOTO / Jewel SAMAD        (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images) © Getty Swazilands King Mswati III addresses the 72nd Session of the United Nations General assembly at the UN headquarters in New York on September 20, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Jewel SAMAD (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

Some critics said it could result in unnecessary administration costs and that it is further proof of the king's authoritarianism.

Government spokesman Percy Simelane said eSwatini was the kingdom's name before it was ruled by Britain in colonial times.

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He added: "The king only reinstated the official name of the country, that's all. He didn't need to consult to do just that."

Swaziland is a landlocked country in Africa's south with a population of just over one million.

It is one of the continent's poorest nations and is preparing for a general election in September.

The king has ruled since 1986.

He is known to live an extravagant lifestyle and has been accused of human rights violations.

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