MBABANE - The entire executive committee of Swaziland's main opposition party has been changed at the party's annual congress and elections held secretly in Mbabane over the weekend.
The People's United Democratic Movement (Pudemo), which operates illegally in defiance of a 23-year ban on political parties in the kingdom, elected an entirely new executive committee on Saturday.
Pudemo president Kislon Shongwe, who suddenly resigned a week before the congress without furnishing reasons, was replaced by one of the movement's founder members, Mario Maseku.
Maseku has been a leading member of Pudemo since its formation as an underground political movement in the mid-1980s following the death of King Sobuza II in 1983.
After King Sobuza's death the Liquqo, a traditionalist supreme council of state comprising senior members of the Swazi royal family, assumed control. It subsequently dismissed the then queen regent, Queen Dzeliwe.
Pudemo has lead an active campaign aimed at ending the non-party political system, reintroducing multi-party rule and relieving ruling King Mswati of executive powers.
Pudemo secretary-general Domenic Mngomezulu was replaced by Mbonginkhosi Dlamini while veteran Pudemo women's activist Zodwa Mkhonta was elected vice-president.
Pudemo officials said Shongwe resigned to avoid deepening a split in the movement resulting from dissatisfaction among younger, more militant, members who have accused the general executive of ineffective leadership and taking too long in forcing political change.