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South Africa’s parliament choosing a president amid uncertainty.

by Admin

South Africa’s newly elected parliament has convened to select the country’s next president amid political uncertainty following last month’s election.

Lawmakers meeting on Friday are expected to re-elect President Cyril Ramaphosa, forming an unprecedented coalition government after his African National Congress (ANC) secured 40 percent of the vote but lost its long-held majority. Ramaphosa, 71, seeks a second term and now needs support from other parties for his return.

The ANC reportedly reached a unity government deal with the Democratic Alliance (DA), which won 21 percent of the vote, along with the Inkatha Freedom Party and Patriotic Alliance. The DA is slated to take the deputy speaker position, although it’s unclear if coalition partners will elect Ramaphosa as president.

“Uncertainty surrounds the negotiations,” said Al Jazeera’s Fahmida Miller from Cape Town, stressing the critical need for government stability, particularly amidst South Africa’s economic struggles. Economists and markets responded positively to the potential coalition, viewing it as a stabilizing factor.

After proposing a government of national unity and inviting all 17 other parliamentary parties to join, the ANC faced some refusals. Ramaphosa could secure a smooth path to reelection if uncontested; otherwise, a vote among nominated candidates from other parties will follow.

With a deadline looming for finalizing a coalition agreement, parliament must convene and elect the president within 14 days of declaring election results, by Sunday. Friday’s session is anticipated to be lengthy, beginning with the election of a speaker and deputy speaker among the 400 members.

Despite boycotts by some parties, parliamentary procedures are expected to proceed as South Africa’s constitution mandates a one-third quorum of lawmakers present for voting, a threshold the ANC alone can meet.

Jacob Zuma
Jacob Zuma greets supporters in the township of Soweto on May 18 [Jerome Delay/AP Photo]

South Africa has not encountered such profound political uncertainty since the ANC’s historic victory in the first all-race election of 1994, marking the end of nearly fifty years of apartheid, a system of racial segregation.

Since then, the ANC has consistently held a commanding majority in parliament, rendering presidential elections mere formalities. Every South African leader since Nelson Mandela has emerged from the ANC.

Adding to the unusual circumstances, parliament will meet at an unconventional venue following a fire in 2022 that devastated the National Assembly building in Cape Town. Lawmakers will now gather at a conference center near the city’s waterfront to determine the next leader of the nation.

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