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South Africa: Opposition Democratic Alliance Seeks Court Order To Bar Military From Parliament

South Africa’s opposition Democratic Alliance said on Friday it was seeking a court ruling on the deployment of armed soldiers in parliament saying the move, during President Jacob Zuma’s state of the nation speech, was unconstitutional.

The president’s address was delayed by more than an hour and descended into chaos on Thursday as far-left lawmakers brawled with officials after interrupting the speech and the main opposition party walked out.

Zuma had authorised more than 400 soldiers to join the security team at the parliament building during the speech, an unprecedented move his opponents described as a “militarization” of parliament.

“Armed military police, with live ammunition, on the precinct of parliament is completely untenable in a constitutional democracy,” Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane told reporters.

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Previous speeches in parliament by Zuma have also led to disruption, but Thursday’s – in which he said the government would push for a greater role for blacks in the economy – was the most violent, with the scuffles spilling over into the precinct of the building.

Zuma, halfway through his second five-year term, seemed unfazed by the chaotic scenes, witnessed by his predecessor Thabo Mbeki in the public gallery, and immediately after the sitting went to a gathering of his African National Congress (ANC) party, where he briefly entertained the crowds singing apartheid liberation-era songs.

 

 

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