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South Africa president suspends top criminal prosecutor

[JURIST] South African President Thabo Mbeki [official profile] suspended National Prosecuting Authority chief Vusi Pikoli Monday, citing a strained relationship between Pikoli and his superior, Minister of Justice Bridget Mabandla [official website], as the primary motive for the suspension. Pikoli was appointed to lead an elite corruption fighting agency in 2005, but last May complained before parliament of attacks against his office by the ruling political party, the African National Congress [official website].

Mbeki's brief statement emphasized that government functioning "will not be compromised, especially within the context of the collective challenge to fight crime." South Africa [CIA backgrounder; JURIST news archive] has one of the highest crime rates in the world, averaging 50 murders a day. AFP has more. AP has additional coverage.

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