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S.Africa's Ramaphosa to Skip UN General Assembly

FILE - South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa delivers a pre-recorded statement as part of the U.N. General Assembly 76th session General Debate at the United Nations Headquarters, in New York, U.S., Sept. 22, 2021.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa will not attend the United Nations General Assembly this week, instead returning home from Britain to address the national power crisis, his spokesman told local media including television channel eNCA.

Most South Africans have been without power for at least six hours a day as state-owned power utility Eskom moved to "Stage 6" electricity outages on Sunday for only the third time ever.

Ramaphosa's spokesman Vincent Magwenya told privately-owned television channel eNCA that the president, currently in Britain for the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II, was scheduled to travel to New York to address the United Nations General Assembly.

"He has decided to cancel that," Magwenya said.

Following Monday’s funeral, Ramaphosa will immediately travel back to South Africa.

Ramaphosa to Skip UNGA Amid Power Crisis
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Eskom has implemented outages for over a decade that have choked economic growth in Africa's most industrialized nation. Amid growing public anger, Ramaphosa pledged new steps to address the crisis in July, but power cuts have persisted.

This is not the first time the president has cut short a foreign trip over the power crisis. In 2019, Ramaphosa ended a visit to Egypt early so he could return home to deal with the same issue.

Ramaphosa wants to better understand what led to a large number of recent breakdowns at Eskom's generation fleet and what progress has been made on the interventions he announced in July, Magwenya said.

He said South Africa's statement at the U.N. General Assembly will instead be delivered by International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor.