Voters in the African kingdom of eSwatini, previously known as Swaziland, cast ballots Friday in an election where political parties are banned and winning candidates are sidelined by a monarch who wields absolute power.

In the largely rural country that suffers grinding poverty, the election process divides the 1.3 million population, with critics calling it a sham but supporters saying it is a unique blend of tradition and politics.

At more than 300 well-organised polling stations in schools and community halls, Swazi citizens chose from individual candidates who are almost all loyal to King Mswati III.

The king is one of the world’s last absolute rulers, with complete control over parliament and government as well as the judiciary, civil service and security forces.

Source: Seychelles News Agency