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Monday, June 14, 1999 Published at 18:54 GMT 19:54 UK


World: Africa

Mbeki elected South African president

Passing the baton: Nelson Mandela and his successor Thabo Mbeki

South Africa's parliament has elected Thabo Mbeki to succeed President Nelson Mandela, who formally retires on Wednesday.

Nelson Mandela
Mr Mbeki - the African National Congress (ANC) leader and Mr Mandela's deputy for the last five years - will be sworn in on Wednesday at a ceremony in Pretoria featuring African and world leaders.


Greg Barrow in Johannesburg: The nomination was accepted unopposed
In a speech to mark his election at the National Assembly in Cape Town, Mr Mbeki paid tribute to the people who had given the ANC its overwhelming victory in South Africa's elections.

"If all of us stand tall today," he said, "it is only because we are borne aloft by the firm hands of the ordinary people of our country."

The speech was sombre and businesslike, without the colourful quotations and proverbs so often used by Mr Mbeki in his remarks.


[ image: Terror Lekota enjoying the occasion]
Terror Lekota enjoying the occasion
"I am aware that the millions of our people expect that we will move faster in pursuit of the goal of a better life for all," he said, referring to the poverty and racial divisions that still affect South African life.

Earlier, South Africa's second democratically elected parliament since the end of apartheid was sworn in to office.

There was an air of excitement in the Assembly building as the new MPs arrived.


Thabo Mbeki: "Our legislature, executive and judiciary affirm the integrity of our democratic state"
Members of the ANC make up more than two-thirds of the 400 MPs.

Dressed in a variety of outfits - from saris to brightly coloured national dress to business suits - the MPs took the oath of office in groups of ten.

Standing in front of Constitutional Court chief judge Arthur Chaskalson, they swore allegiance to the South African constitution.

Mr Mbeki was among the first group to be sworn in.

Alongside him stood Jacob Zuma, deputy president of the ANC, and the Speaker of the House, Frene Ginwala.



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