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June 29, 2017

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Divorce by Swaziland lawmakers discouraged to avoid shaming king

MBABANE, Swaziland--Swaziland's Senate chief said Friday lawmakers should not divorce to avoid embarrassing the country's polygamous king, who has declared that only death can undo marriages.

Gelane Zwane, leader of the upper house in Africa's last absolute monarchy, said lawmakers should set a good example to young people in the deeply conservative country and warned them against the temptations of the flesh.

She also urged women lawmakers against allowing their position to make them "disrespectful" to their husbands — while telling men to keep their eyes off female colleagues' cleavages.

The edict — which Zwane said applied particularly to women — came after King Mswati III said earlier this year that only death can undo a traditional union, even though Swazi culture allows marriages to be terminated.

"Once people become legislators they lose their private lives," she told AFP. "We discourage divorce because politicians should behave in a moral way to leave a positive legacy."

Zwane issued the edict at a recent workshop for lawmakers. Parliamentarians who had already started divorce proceedings were to hold off until after their term ended in 2018, she said.

She said there is a "misconception that when women occupy political positions they then become disrespectful and divorce their husbands."

She has therefore reminded lawmakers, especially female ones, "that when in this position, being embroiled in messy divorce disputes embarrasses the appointing authority," referring to the king.

Africa's 45-year-old last absolute monarch has been married 13 times, although three wives have left the royal household in recent years.

In May last year, one of his wives, Angela Dlamini, known as LaGija, fled the royal palace for South Africa, claiming years of physical and emotional abuse by her husband.

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