Africa’s Journal

Your source for African news.

South African President Mbeki to Step Down

Posted by africasjournal on September 20, 2008

Mbeki has been South African president since 1999.

South African President Thabo Mbeki agreed to quit Saturday after being told to step down by the country’s African National Congress ruling party months ahead of next year’s scheduled elections. Mbeki has been South African president since 1999.

A statement from the presidency said Mbeki would “step down after all constitutional requirements have been met,” The Associated Press reported.

Earlier ANC Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe told a news conference in Johannesburg that Mbeki, who succeeded Nelson Mandela in 1999, had accepted the party’s decision.

“He did not display shock … He welcomed the news and agreed that he is going to participate in the process and the formalities,” Mantashe said.

Mantashe added that the ANC had made the decision “for the citizens of South Africa, so there could be stability within the country” and so the ANC movement could remain “stable and unified.”

If Mbeki had refused to resign, he could have been ousted by a no-confidence vote in parliament, Mantashe said.

Mbeki was replaced as leader of the ANC last December by Jacob Zuma, a 66-year-old former guerrilla leader who commands strong support among South Africa’s poor. He had been due to step down next year after two terms of office.

But Mbeki had been under pressure amid allegations that he had instigated politically motivated corruption charges against Zuma, AP said. Those charges were thrown out by a judge last week, paving the way for Zuma to compete in presidential elections.

The development comes in the same week that Mbeki was credited with brokering a power-sharing deal in neighboring Zimbabwe between President Robert Mugabe and rival Morgan Tsvangirai.

Mantashe said Mbeki would remain in office until an interim president was appointed and would continue to act as a mediator in Zimbabwe, AP said.


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