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South African President Thabo Mbeki Resigns


South African President Thabo Mbeki has told South Africans he has submitted his resignation to the speaker of parliament. VOA's Delia Robertson reports from our southern Africa bureau in Johannesburg.

Mr. Mbeki told South Africans in an address broadcast on national radio and television of his decision.

"That today I handed a letter to the speaker of the national assembly, the Honorable Baleka Mbete, to tender my resignation from the high position of president of the Republic of South Africa effective from the day that will be determined by the national assembly," said Thabo Mbeki.

It is expected that the date of Mr. Mbeki's departure from office will be decided early this week.

Mr. Mbeki said he is has been a loyal member of the African National Congress for 52 years, he says he remains a member of the party and respects its decisions. He thanked the African National Congress and the people of South Africa for allowing him to serve them.

"I would like sincerely thank the nation and the ANC for having given me the opportunity to serve in public office during the last 14 years and deputy president and president of the republic of south Africa," he said.

Mr. Mbeki said that in carrying out his duties, he always endeavored to put the people of South Africa first.

"Indeed the work we have done in the pursuit of the vision and principles of our liberation movement, has at all times been based on the age old values of ubuntu [humanity], of selflessness, sacrifice and service, in a manner that ensures that that the interests of the people take precedence over our desires as individuals," said Mbeki.

Mr. Mbeki's announcement follows a decision by the ruling party to "recall" him. Many South Africans are asking why the announcement of Mr. Mbeki's recall was not made by the president of the African National Congress Jacob Zuma.

Zuma also did not personally inform Mr. Mbeki of the party's decision to recall him. Zuma has not spoken or been seen in public since his party began its meeting to oust Mr. Mbeki.

The president has been under pressure since a judge threw out a corruption case against Zuma earlier this month and implied that the Mbeki administration had interfered with prosecutors.

Zuma was scheduled to participate in a television discussion prior to Mr. Mbeki's address to the nation, but instead sent party treasurer Matthews Phosa.

Phosa rejected suggestions from panelists on the show that Mr. Mbeki's ouster was rooted in Zuma's legal problems or was an act of vengeance against Mr. Mbeki. He said the ANC has lost confidence in Mr. Mbeki and the party is merely exercising its democratic prerogative to choose its leaders.

"We have the right to decide who shall lead us from time to time," said Matthews Phosa. "And that is our democratic right. And Mr. Mbeki, who is the president of the country, did not contest this. There is nobility in his reaction. He accepted it."

Mr. Phosa said the ANC will announce its candidate to replace Mr. Mbeki on Monday. The nominee, widely expected to be Speaker Mbete, will have to be elected by the members of parliament.

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