King Mswati III has banned divorce in his Swazi Kingdom.
The Times of Swaziland quoted the king issuing the decree during an Easter meeting with Christian religious leaders at the Engabezweni Royal Residence.
He was also quoted telling the pastors to inform the citizens that there was no pulling out once marriage takes place.
“In our culture, once you marry, there is no turning back,” the Times quoted King Mswati as saying.
The royal directive comes as the kingdom’s attorney-general office drafts a marriage bill that spells out five grounds for divorce.
The existing law does not allow divorce.
The newspaper quoted King Mswati comparing marriage to a covenant with God, pointing out that it is wrong for people to break agreements “made with their maker”.
Swaziland is one of the world’s last remaining absolute monarchies.
According to United Nations reports, Swaziland has the highest HIV/Aids prevalence rate on the globe.
Out of a total population of 1.2 million, more than 210,000 Swazis are infected with the virus.
King Mswati III was crowned in 1986 at the age of 18, succeeding his long-serving father King Sobhuza II, who died aged 82.
The king, 49, who is known as Ngweyama — “the lion” — has many wives and often appears in public in traditional attire.
He is permitted by law to choose a new bride every year.