South African President Jacob Zuma, who has been accused of corruption amid falling popularity, has resigned after nearly nine years in power after members of his own party threatened to remove him from office.
Zuma, who is 75, said in an address to the nation on late Wednesday night that he was resigning with immediate effect. He added that although he disagreed with his party’s decision, he did not want to cause division in the ruling ANC party.
The resignation came just a day after the ANC told Zuma to step down to allow the party’s new leader to take over, but Zuma refused and demanded a transition of up to 6 months. The ANC told Zuma earlier on Wednesday to resign by midnight or face removal from office through a vote of no confidence.
“No life should be lost in my name and also, the ANC should never be divided in my name,” Zuma said in his address to the nation. “I have therefore come to the decision to resign as president of the Republic with immediate effect. Even though I disagree with the decision of the leadership of my organization, I have always been a disciplined member of the ANC.”
Zuma said he will continue to serve the people of South Africa and the ANC party.
Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, who replaced Zuma as leader of the ANC in December, is expected to be sworn in as president once parliament formally confirms him on Friday morning. Ramaphosa is then expected to deliver the State of the Nation address at 7 p.m. local time on Friday.
Zuma has long faced allegations of corruption, which he has always strongly denied.
Calls for Zuma to be replaced also grew stronger in the wake of local elections in 2016, when the ANC booked its worst electoral performance since the end of apartheid in 1994. It also lost control of the capital Pretoria, where the opposition Democratic Alliance won 43% of the vote.
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