Quote of the week

[Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro] possesses, however, few of his predecessor’s resources, lacking not just oil revenue but Chávez’s surplus of charisma, humour and political skill. Maduro, unable to end the crisis, has increasingly sided with the privileged classes against the masses; his security forces are regularly dispatched into barrios to repress militants under the guise of fighting crime. Having lost its majority in Congress, the government, fearing it can’t win at the polls the way Chávez did, cancelled gubernatorial elections that had been set for December last year (though they now appear to be on again). Maduro has convened an assembly to write a new constitution, supposedly with the objective of institutionalising the power of social movements, though it is unlikely to lessen the country’s polarisation.

Greg Grandin
London Review of Books
20 September 2008

Thabo Mbek to resign as President

I am reliably told that the ANC will announce in the next hour or two that President Thabo Mbeki will resign as President of the country. If this is correct, the big question then is what happens to the Deputy President and his cabinet and who will act as President until a new President is elected.

The Times reports this morning that Baleka Mbete will take over as acting President, but as I read the Constitution this is not possible unless the entire cabinet resigns as well. Even then the Speaker can only act as President until the National Assembly designates another of its members as acting President. The reason for this is that the separation of powers between the legislature and the executive makes it unwise for the Speaker of Parliament to head the national executive and only requires this as a last resort for as short a period as possible.

The SABC plans a live broadcast to carry this announcment. We will then hear what wil happen next and what the position of the cabinet is in all of this.

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