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South Africa elections: Ramaphosa urges parties to "find common ground"

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa speaks during the announcement of the results in South Africa's general elections in Johannesburg, South Africa. 02/06/2024   -  
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Emilio Morenatti/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved.

South Africa

South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa urged parties on Sunday to "find common ground" following the final election results confirming that the ANC had lost its majority.

South Africa announced its final election results Sunday that confirmed no party won a majority, and unprecedented coalition talks were starting to find a way forward for Africa’s most advanced economy.

President Cyril Ramaphosa immediately called in a speech for parties to overcome their differences and find “common ground” to form the first national coalition government in the country's young democracy.

Ramaphosa's African National Congress (ANC) party had already lost its 30-year majority after more than 99% of votes were counted by Saturday and showed it couldn’t surpass 50%.

The ANC received around 40% of the votes in last week’s election in the final count, the largest share.

But without a majority it will need to agree a coalition with another party or parties for the first time to co-govern and reelect Ramaphosa for a second term.

South Africa’s national elections decide how many seats each party gets in Parliament and lawmakers elect the president later.

"Overcome differences"

“We have heard the voices of our people and we must respect their choices and their wishes,” Ramaphosa said.

“They expect the parties for which they have voted to find common ground, to overcome their differences, to act and work together for the good of everyone,” he added.

The ANC was the party of Nelson Mandela and freed South Africa from the apartheid system of white minority rule in 1994.

It had governed with a comfortable majority since then.

This election saw an unprecedented slump in its support, with voters seen to be deserting the party due to its failure to solve widespread poverty and extremely high unemployment levels, as well as problems with the delivery of basic government services to many in a nation of 62 million.

The ANC had said earlier Sunday that it was starting its negotiations with all major parties.

The DA won the second most votes with around 21% and the two parties would hold a majority together and be able to govern. DA leader John Steenhuisen said his party was also initiating talks with parties.

There is some time pressure for coalition talks to progress and for the uncertainty to be minimized given South Africa’s new Parliament needs to sit for the first time and elect a president within 14 days of the election results being declared.

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