South African President Ramaphosa set for re-election as DA gives backing

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Al Jazeera

Cyril Ramaphosa is set for re-election as South Africa’s president after the country’s second biggest party said it would back the African National Congress (ANC) leader following a government coalition deal.

The ANC, which came to power in 1994 after waging a decades-long battle against apartheid, lost its majority for the first time in last month’s election and has spent two weeks locked in intensive behind-the-scenes talks with other parties.

As the newly elected parliament convened on Friday, Democratic Alliance (DA) leader John Steenhuisen said his white-led main opposition party had formally signed a coalition agreement with the ANC, and part of the agreement was Ramaphosa would be president.

“We will be supporting President Cyril Ramaphosa in his election for the president of the republic of South Africa,” Steenhuisen said during a pause in the opening session of parliament.

Lawmakers are due to elect a president later in the day and the ANC and DA together have a majority of lawmakers that would see the 71-year-old return for a second term. In the May 29 polls, the AND gathered 40 percent of the vote, followed by the DA with 21 percent.

Two smaller parties, the socially conservative Inkatha Freedom Party and the right-wing Patriotic Alliance, will also take part in the coalition government, they said.

‘New era’

Ramaphosa could have a smooth passage to a second term if he is the only candidate nominated, in which case he would be elected automatically. But if other candidates are nominated by other parties, a vote follows.

The deal marks the start of a new chapter in South African politics, which has been utterly dominated by the ANC since it swept to power in the 1994 elections following the end of apartheid.

“Today marks the beginning of a new era where we put our differences aside and unite for the betterment of all South Africans,” Sihle Zikalala, a member of the ANC’s governing body, said in a post on X.