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South African President Cyril Ramaphosa re-elected for second term

South African président Cyril Ramaphosa reacts after being reelected as leader of the country in Cape Town, South Africa, Friday, June 14, 2024.
South African président Cyril Ramaphosa reacts after being reelected as leader of the country in Cape Town, South Africa, Friday, June 14, 2024. Copyright Jerome Delay/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved.
Copyright Jerome Delay/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved.
By Daniel Bellamy with AP
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Ramaphosa was re-elected after his party struck a dramatic late coalition deal with a former political foe just hours before the vote.

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As the leader of the African National Congress, or ANC, Ramaphosa won convincingly in Parliament against a surprise candidate who was also nominated — Julius Malema of the far-left Economic Freedom Fighters. Ramaphosa received 283 votes to Malema's 44 in the 400-member house.

The 71-year-old secured his second term with the help of lawmakers from the country's second biggest party, the Democratic Alliance, and some smaller parties. They backed him in the vote and got him over the finish line following the ANC's loss of its long-held majority in a landmark election two weeks ago that reduced it to 159 seats in Parliament.

During a break in what turned out to be a marathon parliamentary session, the ANC signed the last-minute agreement with the DA, effectively ensuring Ramaphosa stays on as the leader of Africa’s most industrialized economy. The parties will now co-govern South Africa in its first national coalition where no party has a majority in Parliament.

The deal, referred to as a government of national unity, brings the ANC together with the DA, a white-led party that had for years been the main opposition and the fiercest critic of the ANC. At least two other smaller parties also joined the agreement.

Ramaphosa called the deal — which sent South Africa into uncharted waters — a “new birth, a new era for our country” and said it was time for parties “to overcome their differences and to work together.”

“This is what we shall do and this is what I am committed to achieve as the president,” he said.

The ANC — the famed party of Nelson Mandela — had ruled South Africa with a comfortable majority since the end of the apartheid system of white minority rule in 1994.

But it lost its 30-year majority in the humbling national election on May 29, a turning point for the country. The vote was held against the backdrop of widespread discontent from South Africans over high levels of poverty, inequality and unemployment.

Analysts warn there might be complications ahead, though, given the starkly different ideologies of the ANC, a former liberation movement, and the centrist, business-friendly DA, which won 21% of the vote in the national election, the second largest share behind the ANC's 40%.

For one, the DA disagreed with the ANC government's move to accuse Israel of genocide In Gaza in a highly sensitive case at the United Nations’ top court.

The DA leader John Steenhuisen was the first to confirm the agreement.

“From today, the DA will co-govern the Republic of South Africa in a spirit of unity and collaboration,” he said as he stepped away from Friday's proceedings for a speech carried live on television in which he said a deal was signed and that the DA lawmakers would vote for Ramaphosa for president.

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