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Swaziland sees protests over wages, drug shortages

- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 27, 2011

MBABANE, SWAZILAND (AP) - Hundreds of people are protesting in the small kingdom of Swaziland over claims that poor governance by sub-Saharan Africa's sole absolute monarch has led to a shortage of essential medical supplies and a failing economy.

More than 500 people demonstrated in the capital Wednesday while nearly 1,000 protested in the western town of Siteki.

AIDS groups have warned that the country faces a shortage of anti-retroviral drugs. More than a quarter of Swazis between the ages of 15 and 49 are believed to carry HIV.

Labor union negotiations also failed this week. Wandile Sifundza, a teachers' union leader, said members want a change to a constitutional monarch, who can be trusted to manage national finances.

Protests were peaceful but heavily guarded. Several students were detained.

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