South Africa's Mbeki resigns after power struggle
South African President Thabo Mbeki says he has formally resigned, effective as soon as a new president is chosen. (AP)
Mbeki spoke in a nationally televised address Sunday. A day earlier, his African National Congress had called on him to resign. He is leaving before his second and last constitutionally allowed term expires next year.
Mbeki lost the final battle Saturday in a long power struggle with African National Congress president Jacob Zuma.
Parliament will convene in the coming days to select an interim president before elections, which are scheduled for next year. Baleka Mbete, the speaker of the National Assembly and chairwoman of the ANC, is expected to take over.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.
CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) ї The South African government held an emergency session Sunday to try to limit the political and economic fallout from the ouster of President Thabo Mbeki.
Both Mbeki and African National Congress president Jacob Zuma, who engineered the Mbeki's dismissal, were scheduled to speak on state television following the Cabinet meeting.
Mbeki lost the final battle Saturday in a long power struggle with Zuma and agreed to an order from the ANC's National Executive Committee that he quit as head of state before the end of his second term in office.
It was unclear how many Cabinet ministers would quit in solidarity with Mbeki. Finance Minister Trevor Manuel ї key to investor confidence in South Africa ї was expected to stay.
Parliament is expected to convene in the coming days to select an interim president before elections, which are scheduled for next year. Baleka Mbete, the speaker of the National Assembly and chairwoman of the ANC, is widely tipped to take over.
Until then Mbeki will remain in office. In a statement Saturday he said he would stand down once "all constitutional requirements" were satisfied, prompting speculation he might seek to drag out his departure.
Zuma, who will be the ANC's candidate in the elections, is not eligible to be interim president because he is not a member of Parliament. And the ANC has indicated it does not want to call early elections.
Mbeki and his ministers put on brave faces for the cameras at the start of the Cabinet meeting, joking among themselves and chatting about the nation's strong performance at the Paralympics.
Mbeki spoke only briefly, to insist that his departure would not affect South Africa's hosting of the World Cup.
"The World Cup is not going anywhere," he said.
The meeting lasted just over an hour and officials refused to comment on the discussions before Mbeki's televised address.
A senior ANC official, Matthews Phosa, said the party had asked the Cabinet to remain on the job.
"We want the Cabinet to stay," Phosa said. "We want stability and we want them to stay ... but we cannot enforce things upon them," he said.
Zuma had been expected to make a televised statement Sunday but is now expected to hold a press conference Monday instead.
ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said Saturday that the party hoped to end its internal wrangling and focus on the elections. The ANC enjoys a huge majority and is expected to romp to victory. But there has been speculation that Mbeki loyalists might try to set up a rival party.
Mbeki came under pressure from his party to quit following a judge's ruling last week that he might have had a role in Zuma being charged with corruption in connection with a multibillion dollar arms deal. Mbeki denied the claims.
Although Mbeki's removal came more quickly than many people expected, South Africans had been anticipating a shift from Mbeki to Zuma at least since last December, when Zuma defeated the president in an election for the ANC leadership.
Mbeki fired Zuma as his national deputy president in 2005, after Zuma's financial adviser was convicted of trying to elicit a bribe to deflect investigations into the arms deal.
Initial charges against Zuma were withdrawn, but the chief prosecutor said last December that he had enough evidence to bring new ones. A judge threw out the new charges last week and implied they were the result of political interference.