Mbeki, Ousted, Addresses South Africa

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Johannesburg — Thabo Mbeki, the South African president ousted by his own party, attempted to exit the world stage with dignity last night when he refrained from attacking his political foes in an address to the nation.

Mr. Mbeki had earlier handed in his resignation, effective as soon as a successor is chosen, to Baleka Mbete, the parliamentary speaker who is among the front-runners, led by Jacob Zuma, to be announced as the party’s nominee for the post.

“I have been a loyal member of the ANC for 52 years,” Mr. Mbeki said. “I remain a member of the ANC and therefore respect its decisions. I would like sincerely to thank the nation and the ANC for the opportunity to serve in public office as deputy president and president of South Africa.”

Mr. Mbeki defended his performance in office and denied claims that he and the cabinet had interfered in the prosecution of Jacob Zuma, who ousted him from the ANC leadership last year and is now seen as a president in waiting.

The director of the Centre for the Study of Democracy, Steven Friedman, said: “Mr. Mbeki sounded more presidential now than he has for the last eight or nine months. This is how he wants to be remembered.”

The president was ordered on Saturday to step down by the ruling party’s national executive committee.

ANC figures insist that the decision was taken to ensure unity, but questions remain over the future of cabinet ministers, many of them Mbeki allies.


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