Cyril Ramaphosa re-elected South African president
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Cyril Ramaphosa re-elected South African president

South Africa's parliament has re-elected Cyril Ramaphosa as the country's president following a landmark coalition deal between the governing African National Congress (ANC) and opposition parties.

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The new government of national unity combines Mr Ramaphosa's ANC, the centre-right Democratic Alliance (DA) and smaller parties.

The agreement was hashed out on a day of high political drama, which saw the National Assembly sitting late into the evening for votes to confirm who would hold power in the new administration.

Earlier, a deal was struck following weeks of speculation about whom the ANC would partner with after losing its parliamentary majority for the first time in 30 years in last month's elections.

It got 40% of the vote, while the DA came second with 22%.

ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula called the coalition deal a "remarkable step".

It meant Mr Ramaphosa - who replaced Jacob Zuma as both president and ANC leader following a bitter power struggle in 2018 - was able to retain power.

The ANC had always polled above 50% since the country's first democratic elections in 1994, which saw Nelson Mandela become president.

However, support for the party has been dropping significantly because of anger over high levels of corruption, unemployment and crime.

An alliance between the centre-right DA and the ANC is unprecedented as the two parties have been rivals for decades.

Under Nelson Mandela, the ANC led the campaign against the racist system of apartheid in 1994 and won the country's first democratic elections.

The DA's critics have accused it of trying to protect the economic privileges the country's white minority built up during apartheid - a charge the party denies.

Addressing lawmakers late on Friday in Cape Town, John Steenhuisen, the leader of the DA, said: “Today is a historic day for our country, and I think it is the start of a new chapter.”

The National Assembly also swore in a speaker from the ANC, while the post of deputy speaker went to the DA.

South African deal agreed

The leader of the second largest party, which is part of the deal, calls this a 'new chapter' for the country.

The new MPs have been sworn in after the 29 May election.

That was when the African National Congress (ANC) lost its majority for the first time in 30 years.

The outcome forced the party into coalition talks.

The party that came third in the poll - ex-President Jacob Zuma's uMkhonto weSizwe - has challenged the outcome of the election and said its MPs would not turn up.

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more to follow...

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