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President Tsai attends Eswatini Independence Day celebrations

Mbabane, Sept. 6 (CNA) President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) attended a ceremony on Wednesday celebrating the Independence Day of Eswatini and the birthday of the country’s absolute monarch King Mswati III, expressing optimism about enduring diplomatic ties between the two countries.

During the televised ceremony, Tsai, who is on a four-day visit to Eswatini, was seen arriving at a stadium in Mbabane in a convoy to join the celebrations also attended by the envoys of Eswatini’s neighbors.

In her speech, Tsai lauded the partnership between Taiwan and Eswatini over the past five decades as the “epitome of progress and development.”

She said joint projects had seen Eswatini become the second most electrified country in Africa, allowed Eswatini students to pursue tertiary studies in Taiwan, and empowered aspiring women entrepreneurs in the African nation with training and financial support.

The president also thanked Eswatini for its continued support for Taiwan’s participation in international organizations, including advocating the country’s inclusion at the United Nations’ general assembly last year.

Looking ahead, she said, she looked forward to seeing both sides “setting and surpassing new milestones on our way to a century of friendship.”

The Republic of China, Taiwan’s official name, established diplomatic relations with Eswatini in 1968. The landlocked nation with a population of about 1.2 million is Taiwan’s only African ally.

Meanwhile, Mswati III, who has reigned as Africa’s last absolute monarch since 1986, expressed concern that the continent had long been mired by political turmoil.

He added his government remained committed to working with the U.N. and the African Union to promote stability and peace in Africa.

Africa has been beset by political setbacks in recent weeks due to military coups in former French colonies Niger and Gabon, with Eswatini also the site of unrest since 2021, when the government violently suppressed demonstrations by pro-democracy supporters.

Wednesday’s celebrations featured musical and dance performances, which were followed by a state dinner hosted by Mswati III and attended by Tsai, according to the Presidential Office.

The president also visited the Referral and Emergency Complex in the Mbabane Government Hospital, a facility that Taiwan’s government has funded, and praised Taipei Medical University Hospital for having provided medical services and training to the people of Eswatini since 2009.

Tsai arrived in the African nation on Tuesday for a visit from Sept. 5-8, her ninth overseas trip since taking office in 2016.

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