Xenophobia: South Africa President Cancels Plan To Attend UN Meeting
President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa/File Photo

The office of the president of South Africa on Thursday said President Cyril Ramaphosa has cancelled his plan to attend the upcoming United Nations (UN) General Assembly meeting because he has to ‘concentrate on critical issues’ at home.

Concise News reports that the presidency said the president has instructed Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Naledi Pandor to lead the South African delegation to attend the meeting, scheduled for September 23-26 in New York.

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Presidential spokesperson, Khusela Diko said Ramaphosa has decided to remain in South Africa to attend to the implementation of the government’s urgent measures on gender-based violence.

Diko added that the president wanted to witness the restoration of order and stability in areas affected by public violence and to oversee initiatives to turn around the economy.

Ramaphosa said in a statement issued by the Presidency that this is a time for leadership from across society to mobilise their respective constituencies in support of economic progress and rebuilding the social and moral fabric of society.

He said his government is stepping up its own contribution to this collective effort.

Ramaphosa would be meeting communities, civil society and structures of government on concrete actions to address public concerns and challenges, according to Diko.

Diko said together with cabinet colleagues, the president and his deputy David Mabuza will be focused on the implementation of plans to fight crime, create jobs and develop the economy.

South Africa’s president has rarely been absent from annual UN General Assembly meetings in previous years.

South Africa currently is serving as a non-permanent member in the UN Security Council.

South Africa has seen rising gender-based violence and clashes between locals and foreigners that have led to at least 12 people killed in recent days.

UN chief says will welcome any effort to prevent ‘major’ conflict in Persian Gulf

In related news, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told reporters on Thursday that he would welcome every effort that is undertaken to avoid a possible confrontation in the Persian Gulf.

“It is absolutely essential to avoid any escalation of the situation in the (Persian) Gulf, and the world cannot live with a major confrontation in the Gulf, so any effort that might be made in order to avoid it will always be welcomed,” Guterres said.

Tensions have escalated in the Persian Gulf over the past several months due to the standoff between the U.S. and Iran.

A series of attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman and the Hormuz Strait has worsened the situation, with Washington and its allies blaming Iran and Tehran denying all accusations.

Guterres, responding to whether U.S. President Donald Trump and Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani would hold a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the upcoming 74th session of the UN General Assembly, said, “I have no particular insight in relation to that.”

On Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Trump and Rouhani could potentially meet at the UN General Assembly’s general debate scheduled for September 24 to September 30.