South Africa’s president urges parties to find common ground in talks after election deadlock

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — President Cyril Ramaphosa called on Sunday for South Africa’s political parties to put aside their differences and find “common ground” to form the first national coalition government in its young democracy.

His comments came in a speech straight after the final election results were announced in last week’s polls, which confirmed that no party won a majority. Unprecedented coalition talks were launched to find a way forward for Africa’s most industrialized economy.

Ramaphosa’s African National Congress party has already lost its 30-year majority after more than 99% of votes were counted by Saturday and showed it could not cross 50%. The ANC won 40% of the vote in last week’s election, its largest share.

Without a majority, Ramaphosa would have to agree to a coalition with another party or parties in the first term to secure a second term and re-election. South Africa’s national elections determine how many seats each party gets in parliament and lawmakers then elect the president.

“Our people have spoken,” Ramaphosa said. “Whether we like it or not, they have spoken. We have listened to the voice of our people and must respect their wishes and desires. … The people of South Africa expect their leaders to work together to meet their needs. It is time we all put South Africa first.

The ANC was the party of Nelson Mandela and freed South Africa from the apartheid system of white minority rule in 1994. It then ruled with a comfortable majority, but this election saw an unprecedented decline in its support as voters left the party. Its failure to address widespread poverty, Very high levels of unemployment Many in the country of 62 million people have problems providing basic government services.

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Earlier on Sunday, the ANC said it would open talks with all major parties. More than 50 parties participated in the elections, with significant shares in at least eight votes. At least 26 of them, including former president Jacob Zuma’s MK party, have lodged objections and complaints with the Electoral Commission over voting irregularities.

ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula said it was open to all negotiations. The main opposition Democratic AllianceThis has led to a chorus of criticism of the ANC over the years, but is seen by many analysts as the most stable coalition option for South Africa.

The DA won the second-highest vote with 21.8% of the vote, and the two parties could combine to form a majority. DA leader Jan Steenhuizen said his party would also begin talks with the parties. The ANC won 159 seats in the 400-seat parliament, down from 230 in the last election. DA increased slightly to 87 seats.

With the new parliament sitting for the first time and electing a president within 14 days of the announcement of election results, there is some time pressure to advance coalition talks and reduce uncertainty.

Ramaphosa is running for a second and final term and Mbalula said his position as leader of the ANC was not in question despite the election results. Mbalula said the ANC would not consider the demands Zuma’s MK party Ramaphosa resigned as a condition for talks.

“No political party will dictate terms to us, the ANC. They won’t … you come to us with that demand, forget (it),” Mbalula said.

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However, he said the ANC would not be conceited. “Elections have brought us down, they have brought us to where we are,” he said.

South Africa is a leading voice for and for its continent A developing world on the global stage And is set to take over the presidency of the Group of 20 Rich and Developing Countries later this year. It is the only African country in that group.

“Everybody is looking to see if South Africa can weather the storm and come out the other side,” political analyst Oscar van Heerden told the eNCA news network.

Among several coalition options, the ANC could join MK and the far-left Economic Freedom Fighters, although they have been cast as partners, which could worry investors. Both have pledged to nationalize parts of South Africa’s economy, including gold and platinum mines, among the world’s biggest producers.

The DA has long said it will not work with the EFF and MK, calling them a “doomsday coalition” for South Africa. Steenhuisen, the party’s leader, reiterated that position in a speech on national television on Sunday, but said his party would open negotiations with others and approach them with “cool heads and open minds”.

Political analyst van Heerden said an ANC-DA coalition would “probably provide stability”, but some within the ANC are opposed to it. Other smaller parties could step in to dilute it and make it more palatable to the ANC, some commentators said.

“The DA has approached the ANC as an enemy for years,” Van Heerden said. “The next few days will be very difficult. People need to mature behind closed doors.

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Imre reports from Cape Town, South Africa.


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