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South Africa's new parliament to convene Friday as parties scramble to form coalition government

FILE - Lawmakers are seen during a special session of Parliament in Cape Town, South Africa, Dec. 13, 2022.
FILE - Lawmakers are seen during a special session of Parliament in Cape Town, South Africa, Dec. 13, 2022.

South Africa’s newly elected parliament will convene for the first time on Friday, as parties try to form a coalition government after recent elections produced no outright winner.

“The first sitting of the National Assembly shall be on Friday, 14 June 2024,” wrote Chief Justice Raymond Zondo in an order released by the justice ministry Monday.

Zondo, the country’s top judge, will preside over the ceremony at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, where the lawmakers will take the oath of office.

He will also oversee the election of the National Assembly’s speaker, who will then preside over the deputy speaker’s election. Zondo will then preside over the election of the next president.

The African National Congress, or ANC, lost its parliamentary majority for the first since gaining power 30 years ago at the end of apartheid. The ANC will control 159 of the 400 seats in the new National Assembly, remaining the country’s largest party.

The party’s greatest rivals are the Democratic Alliance, or DA, a pro-business, white-led group with 87 seats, and the uMkhonto we Sizwe, or MK, a populist party led by former President Jacob Zuma, which has 58 seats.

The ANC is attempting to find partners to form a coalition government, the first since the advent of democracy in South Africa.

The May 29 elections came at a difficult time. South Africa’s economy, the most developed on the African continent, has been declining for the past decade, facing high levels of poverty and unemployment, as well as political corruption.

Some information for this story came from Reuters and Agence France-Presse.

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