Former Danish Minister of Foreign Affairs and President of the Danish Parliament, Mogens Lykketoft, has signed a petition that demands the release of imprisoned Swazi political leader Mario Masuku.
By Peter Kenworthy, Africa Contact
“I support the appeal for the immediate release of Mario Masuku and his colleague [student leader Maxwell Dlamini]. I have met with Mario Masuku in Copenhagen as President of the Danish Parliament. He is fighting for democracy and human rights in Swaziland. I urge Denmark and the EU, together with South Africa, to ensure their immediate release so that they can resume their political work”, Mogens Lykketoft said in a statement.
Hundreds of other organisations and individuals, including the South African ruling ANC party, the International Trade Union Confederation and Britain’s largest trade union UNISON, have supported the campaign instigated by Danish solidarity organization Africa Contact and signed the appeal.
The Danish ambassador to South Africa and Swaziland last year raised the question of the trial of Mario Masuku and Maxwell Dlamini with Swaziland’s government and absolute monarch King Mswati III.
Mario Masuku is the president of the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), a political party that fights for democracy in Africa’s last absolute monarchy. He is charged under an anti-terrorism bill that Amnesty International has called “inherently repressive” for having shouted “viva PUDEMO” and criticized the government in a speech on Mayday last year. If convicted he could serve up to 15 years in prison.
Masuku suffers from arthritis and diabetes. Whilst in prison, he has contracted pneumonia and a life-threatening infection in his left foot. He has been denied bail on two separate occasions.
Mogens Lykketoft has met with Mario Masuku on two occasions; in the Danish parliament and in Johannesburg. He has also awarded Masuku a democracy prize in the Danish Parliament in 2010.
Mogens Lykketoft was the leader of the Danish Social Democratic Party between 2002 and 2005 and has served as Danish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Finance Minister and Taxation Minister. He is the current President of the Danish parliament, and will be formally appointed as the next President of the United Nations General Assembly on 15. September 2015.
The campaign to free Mario Masuku and his co-accused, the Secretary General of PUDEMO’s Youth League, SWAYOCO, Maxwell Dlamini, was initiated by The Red Green Alliance and Danish solidarity organisation Africa Contact.
Read more about the partnership between The Red Green Alliance and PUDEMO