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South African President Mbeki Chairs Final Cabinet Meeting


South African President Thabo Mbeki chaired his final Cabinet meeting Wednesday, a day after 10 ministers resigned, and a day before his own resignation takes effect.

There was no official comment about the meeting, but the South African Broadcasting Corporation reports Mr. Mbeki thanked his ministers and shook hands with the incoming president, Kgalema Motlanthe.

Parliament is scheduled to approve Motlanthe as president on Thursday. He will serve until elections in April that ruling party chief Jacob Zuma is expected to win.

More than one-third of the Cabinet and South Africa's deputy president stepped down on Tuesday after the African National Congress forced Mr. Mbeki to resign.

Opposition parties have accused the ANC of jeopardizing South Africa's political and economic stability. Addressing a celebration today, Zuma said "There is no reason to panic."

Zuma refused to say who will be part of the new president's cabinet.

The ANC asked Mr. Mbeki to step down after a judge accused him of interfering in a corruption case against Zuma, his rival. The judge dismissed the case against Zuma on technical grounds.

Tuesday's resignations triggered a sudden drop in South African markets but they partially recovered when Finance Minister Trevor Manuel said he was willing to serve under a new president.

Zuma has strong backing from South Africa's powerful unions, and investors have expressed worry that the ANC will pursue less business-friendly policies under the new leadership.

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.

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