Last Updated on March 24, 2006 by Paulette Brown-Hinds

MBABANE, Mar 20 (GIN) – Several members of the opposition People’s United Democratic Movement were arrested at a rally called by the group’s youth wing, in a weekend crackdown by police, according to media reports.

The arrests highlighted the limitations of a new constitution granting some political freedoms and signed by King Mswati last year. A new Bill of Rights allows freedom of speech and assembly.

Still, political parties are not free to operate in Swaziland, leading to the detention of several members of the party's leadership o­n Saturday, during the planned rally in Manzini, 35 km east of the capital Mbabane.

A police officer, speaking to the Times of Swaziland, said that political organizations would not be permitted to hold public meetings, and “this will remain so until the parties are officially unbanned by the king”.