LOBAMBA - Swaziland's King Mswati III and members of his government Sunday shared the platform with opposition union leaders at a public rally to pray for peace in the tiny southern African kingdom.
About 6,000 people attended the meeting at Somhlolo Stadium south of the capital Mbabane, but little of the tension that has characterised Swaziland's political scene this year was evident.
Mswati, leading the rally-goers in pray, made little reference to demands for political change in his country except to say he hoped workers will not resume the national stayaway that crippled services and industry in January.
With him on the podium were the leaders of the Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions (SFTU), which organised the eight-day strike in support of demands for political and labor law reform.
However, SFTU secretary general Jan Sithole and his deputy Jabulani Nxumalo were not invited to address the prayer rally.
Negotiations between the SFTU, government and representatives of Swazi business are expected to resume in the coming week.
Mswati's government said last week that it has begun setting up a National Constitutional Forum as part of the monarch's promise to introduce political reform.
Last month, Mswati promised US envoy George Moose that he planned to "embark on an exercise to improve the political structure of the country."
The monarch currently rules by decree and all party political activity is banned.
On March 1, South African President Nelson Mandela paid a brief visit to Mswati at his Lozitha palace near here to discuss political upheavals in Swaziland since the strike.
Political observers believe Mandela encouraged Mswati to embark on a constitutional negotiation process similar to that used in South Africa to negotiate an end to white minority rule.
While Mswati's plan includes organised labour, it excludes unregistered organisations such as the banned political parties and is likely to be opposed by the SFTU and its allies.
The SFTU has called for a National Convention which will include all registered non-political and all unregistered political groups.