SA protests: Ramaphosa leaves Commonwealth early

Reports say South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has cut short his attendance at the Commonwealth summit in London to deal with violent protests at home.

Clashes have taken place in North West province where protesters are demanding jobs, housing and an end to corruption.

Shops have been looted, roads barricaded and vehicles set alight.

President Ramaphosa, who took office in February, has sought to encourage investment in South Africa during his visit to the UK.

Protests in South Africa’s North West province erupted on Wednesday as demonstrators demanded the resignation of provincial Premier Supra Mahumapelo – a member of Mr Ramaphosa’s governing African National Congress (ANC).

Media reports say Mr Ramaphosa is scheduled to hold meetings with ANC leaders in the provincial capital Mahikeng today.

“To pay attention to the situation in the North West, the president has decided to cut short his participation in the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London where he is leading a government delegation,” a statement said.

Mahikeng has been at the centre of the latest disturbances – dubbed “service delivery protests” – and streets were reported to be deserted on Thursday after bouts of looting and clashes with police.

Mr Ramaphosa has called for calm and ordered police to exercise restraint.

He has said his government was determined to tackle corruption.

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