- Associated Press - Saturday, March 12, 2011

MANZINI, SWAZILAND (AP) - A Swaziland union official says public hospitals closed for three days this week after nurses went on strike in the country with the highest rate of HIV in the world.

Swaziland Democratic Nurses Union spokesman Sibusiso Lushaba said Saturday that the strike for overtime wages would resume next week. He says police armed with rifles and batons tried to stop 400 peacefully marching nurses from protesting Monday and Tuesday ahead of the strike that began Wednesday.

Lushaba called the small southern African nation a “military state,” saying nurses could only march with government permission. Swaziland is Africa’s last absolute monarchy.

Some 185,000 of Swaziland’s 1 million people are HIV positive, and 30,000 are receiving antiretroviral drugs.

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