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Zuma’s party is trying to block the SA parliament meeting

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The party led by South Africa’s former president Jacob Zuma has asked the country’s highest court to ban the newly elected national assembly from meeting for the first time on Friday.

It is an important date, because then parliamentarians have to vote for the president of the country.

But Mr Zuma’s uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) party boycotted the hearing, claiming there were irregularities in last month’s general election – although it has provided no evidence to support this.

Mr Zuma, a former ANC leader, is an ally turned enemy of President Cyril Ramaphosa, who is seeking a second term.

Mr Ramaphosa is the leader of the African National Congress (ANC), which lost its parliamentary majority for the first time since coming to power after the end of the racist apartheid system in 1994.

The ANC won 40% of the vote, not enough to govern alone.

The country is now locked in talks with other parties as it tries to form a national unity government.

Zuma blames Ramaphosa for ousting him as president in 2018, when the party ousted him in part over corruption allegations

Last December, Zuma announced he would campaign for MK.

MK pulled off a major upset by coming third in the election – the first it has contested since registering as a party last September.

The unexpected strength of her performance reduced the ANC’s vote share and is a factor behind the ruling party’s poor performance.

MK also emerged as the biggest winner in Zuma’s home province of KwaZulu-Natal, but failed to secure an outright majority to gain control of the government there.

It is the only party that has demanded Mr Ramaphosa resign.

The main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), has not confirmed that it plans to vote for Ramaphosa’s re-election. But the party has also not said that it would not support him.

“The focus of the negotiations is now on finding solutions for the process towards government formation (at national and provincial levels),” DA spokesperson Solly Malatsi told the BBC.

“Ramaphosa is the president of the ANC and that is the knowledge with which we are all negotiating,” he added.

In legal papers submitted to the Constitutional Court, MK claimed the South African Electoral Commission was wrong to call the results of May’s general election free and fair.

It also states that holding Friday’s parliamentary meeting would be unconstitutional because not enough members would be present.

And the party demands that the president call new elections within 90 days.

It is unclear whether this legal move will have any impact.

Parliamentary officials had previously rejected the Knesset’s objections, saying the interpretation of the constitution was incorrect, and the chief justice went ahead to announce a date for the first hearing.

More on the aftermath of the elections in South Africa:

(Getty Images/BBC)

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