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The South African president attends an important meeting of his party on the formation of a new government

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CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) – South African president Cyril Ramaphosa met with senior African National Congress officials on Thursday to decide how to form a government after the party lost his 30-year grip on power and caused a deadlock after the elections.

The party’s National Executive Committee met in Johannesburg to process a split within the ranks of the party about which direction to go. The ANC lost its long-standing majority in last week’s elections but remained the largest party and now needs some form of agreement with others to govern Africa’s most industrialized country.

The ANC has indicated that it is tends towards a government of national unity that would bring it together many political parties in a broad agreement, rather than a direct coalition with the main opposition, the Democratic Alliance or DA.

“We want to involve everyone,” ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula said before Thursday’s meeting, which was likely to last all day. Mbalula said a national unity government was being proposed to the NEC to be decided, but he expected there would be debate and disagreement.

ANC is the party that was once led by Nelson Mandela and liberated South Africa from the apartheid system of the white minority government by winning the country’s historic first all-race ballot in 1994. Support for the country has gradually declined over the past two decades as South Africa struggles with high levels of poverty, unemployment and inequality.

The National Executive Committee, which includes more than 80 ANC top officials, is expected to be the body that decides the direction it will take.

There is no guarantee that all other parties will accept the idea of ​​a national unity government, even though South Africa’s political leaders are under some time pressure to decide the way forward as the newly elected parliament is set to vote on June 16 having to sit for the first time. , with one of the first priorities being to elect a president.

The South African president is seeking a second term, and the deal being pursued will also decide whether Ramaphosa is re-elected. South African elections determine how many seats each party gets in parliament and lawmakers then choose the president. As the ANC won only 40% of the vote and lost its parliamentary majority for the first time, it needs others to join the ANC to re-elect Ramaphosa for his final term.

A coalition between ANC and the centrist DA was touted as the most likely option to co-govern South Africa as the two would have a clear majority after DA won the second largest share of the vote with 21%.

But this was met with resistance from the basic structures of the ANC and from some political allies, such as the South African Trade Union Congress.

DA could also oppose a sweeping deal involving many political parties, as it has insisted it will never work with two of them – the new populist MK party of former president Jacob Zuma and the far-left economic freedom fighters. They won the third and fourth largest shares of the vote.

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