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Cyril Ramaphosa re-elected South African president

The next step is for Ramaphosa to allocate cabinet positions, which will include members of the DA

South Africa’s parliament has re-elected Cyril Ramaphosa as the country’s president following a landmark coalition deal between the governing African National Congress (ANC) and opposition parties.

The new government of national unity combines Ramaphosa’s ANC, the centre-right Democratic Alliance (DA) and smaller parties.

In his victory speech, Ramaphosa hailed the new coalition, and said voters expected the leaders to “to act and to work together for the good of everyone in our country”.

The agreement was hashed out on a day of high political drama, which saw the National Assembly sitting late into the evening for votes to confirm who would hold power in the new administration.

Earlier, a deal was struck following weeks of speculation about whom the ANC would partner with after losing its parliamentary majority for the first time in 30 years in last month’s elections.

It got 40% of the vote, while the DA came second with 22%.

ANC secretary general Fikile Mbalula called the coalition deal a “remarkable step”.

It meant Ramaphosa – who replaced Jacob Zuma as both president and ANC leader following a bitter power struggle in 2018 – was able to retain power.

The next step is for Ramaphosa to allocate cabinet positions, which will include members of the DA.

The multi-party deal does not involve two ANC breakaway parties, and they will probably benefit if it fails to deliver economic improvements demanding by voters.

But opinion polls suggest many South Africans want this unprecedented grand coalition to succeed.

The ANC had always polled above 50% since the country’s first democratic elections in 1994, which saw Nelson Mandela become president.

However, support for the party has been dropping significantly because of anger over high levels of corruption, unemployment and crime.

Addressing South Africa’s parliament after his confirmation, Ramaphosa called back to his party’s first presidential victory 30 years ago.

“We have been here before, we were here in 1994, when we sought to unite our country and to effect reconciliation – and we are here now,” he said.

An alliance between the centre-right DA and the ANC is unprecedented as the two parties have been rivals for decades.

Under Nelson Mandela, the ANC led the campaign against the racist system of apartheid and won the country’s first democratic elections.

The DA’s critics have accused it of trying to protect the economic privileges the country’s white minority built up during apartheid – a charge the party denies.

Addressing lawmakers late on Friday in Cape Town, John Steenhuisen, the leader of the DA, said: “Today is a historic day for our country, and I think it is the start of a new chapter.”

The National Assembly also swore in a speaker from the ANC, while the post of deputy speaker went to the DA.

Among the party leaders speaking after the agreement was reached on Friday was Julius Malema, head of the Economic Freedom Fighters – the party he founded after leaving the ANC in 2013.

He said while his party accepted “the results and the voice of the people of South Africa”, he criticised the agreement, saying: “We do not agree to this marriage of convenience, to consolidate the white monopoly power over the economy and the means of production in South Africa.”

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