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No party won a majority in South Africa’s election, official results confirm

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

The African National Congress party had already lost its 30-year majority after more than 99% of votes were counted by Saturday, and showed it could not surpass 50%.

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

Without a majority it will need to agree a coalition with another party or parties for the first time, to govern South Africa and re-elect President Cyril 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.

Our people have spoken,” Mr Ramaphosa said. “Whether we like it or not, they have spoken. We have heard the voices of our people and we must respect their choices and their wishes.

“The people of South Africa expect their leaders to work together to meet their needs. This is a time for all of us to put South Africa first.”

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.

The ANC said earlier Sunday that it was starting its negotiations with all major parties in an attempt to form South Africa’s first national coalition government.

ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula said the party was open to all negotiations, even with the main opposition Democratic Alliance, which has led the chorus of criticism of the ANC for years but is viewed by many analysts as the most stable coalition option for South Africa.

The DA won the second most votes with about 21% and the two parties would hold a majority together and be able to govern.

There is some time pressure for coalition talks to progress and for the uncertainty to be minimised, 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.

Mr Ramaphosa, the leader of the ANC, is seeking a second and final term and Mr Mbalula said his position as leader of the party was not in question despite the election result.

Mr Mbalula said the ANC would not consider the demands by the MK Party of former president Jacob Zuma that Mr Ramaphosa step down as a condition for talks.

“No political party will dictate terms to us, the ANC. They will not. You come to us with that demand, forget (it),” Mr Mbalula said.

South Africa is a leading voice for its continent and the developing world on the global stage and will take over the presidency of the Group of 20 rich and developing nations late this year. It is the only African nation in that group.

“Everyone is looking to see if South Africa can weather the storm and come out the other side,” political analyst Oscar van Heerden said on the eNCA news network.

Amid many options, the ANC could also join with MK and the far-left Economic Freedom Fighters, although they have been cast as partners that would make investors uneasy.

Both have pledged to nationalise parts of South Africa’s economy, including its gold and platinum mines, among the world’s biggest producers.

Mr van Heerden said an ANC-DA coalition would “possibly give stability” but there were some within the ANC who would oppose it. Other smaller parties could be involved to dilute it and make it more palatable for the ANC, some commentators said.

“The DA has approached the ANC as the enemy over many, many years,” Mr van Heerden said.

“The next few days is going to be a very difficult period. People will have to be mature behind closed doors.”

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