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Swaziland votes for new parliament, but opposition says king wields the ultimate power

Swaziland is holding elections to choose a new parliament, but some opposition figures in the southern African monarchy have called for a boycott, saying the process is not democratic.

Voters are selecting 55 parliamentarians on Friday, although pro-democracy activists say King Mswati III holds so much power over the courts and legislature that the election is unlikely to bring meaningful change.

Mswati, who has ruled since the 1980s, has been accused of harassing and jailing pro-democracy activists. A new constitution was introduced in 2005, but analysts say it did not go far enough in addressing calls for reform.

The kingdom of more than 1 million people, about one third of whom are registered to vote, has high rates of unemployment and AIDS.