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South Africa president appeals allegations of judicial interference

[JURIST] A spokesman for South African President Thabo Mbeki [official profile; ANC profile] said Tuesday that Mbeki has challenged in the county's Constitutional Court [official website] allegations that he interfered with a case against Mbeki's political rival and current African National Congress (ANC) [party website] leader Jacob Zuma [JURIST news archive], calling the accusations unjust. Earlier this month Judge Chris Nicholson of the Pietermaritzburg High Court effectively dismissed [JURIST report] the latest case against Zuma on the grounds that Zuma had been deprived of the chance to respond to claims made against him and that "political meddling" in the case by Mbeki and others could not be excluded. ANC officials called for Mbeki's resignation on Friday, and during his resignation speech [text; JURIST report] Sunday, Mbeki insisted that the allegations were without merit. According to AFP, Mbeki wrote in his court filing:

It is unfair and unjust for me to be judged and condemned on the basis of the findings in the Zuma matter. ... These adverse findings have led to my being recalled by my political party, the ANC -- a request I have acceded to as a committed and loyal member of the ANC for the past 52 years.
Meanwhile, ANC officials have moved for Mbeki's resignation to be effective on Thursday [Sapa report] and said that party deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe will take over the presidency [AFP report] until the 2009 elections. AFP has more. Reuters has additional coverage.

Zuma has said that the charges against him were part of a politically motivated effort by Mbeki to upset his plans to run in the 2009 presidential election, and argued that he had both a constitutional and statutory right to state his case before charges were brought. Zuma has been facing corruption allegations [BBC timeline] and other charges for several years. He was first charged with corruption in 2005, but those charges were later dismissed [JURIST report] because prosecutors failed to follow proper procedures.

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