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South African court rules former leader Jacob Zuma can contest election


JOHANNESBURG (AP) — South Africa’s Electoral Court on Tuesday ruled that former President Jacob Zuma can run for office as a lawmaker in the upcoming election, overturning an earlier decision that had barred him from contesting the polls.

The decision paves the way for Zuma to run for president on behalf of the uMkhonto weSizwe Party, a new political organization that he joined last year after denouncing the ruling African National Congress party that he once led.

The Independent Electoral Commission had earlier ruled that Zuma could not run for office due to his criminal record, after it received an objection against his candidature.

South Africa’s constitution does not allow people who have been convicted of a crime and sentenced to more than 12 months in prison without the option of a fine to stand for elections as lawmakers.

Zuma was convicted and sentenced to 15 months imprisonment in 2021 for defying a court order to appear before a judicial commission probing corruption allegations in government and state-owned companies during his presidential term from 2009 to 2018.

However, in a brief court order released on Tuesday, the court announced that an appeal by Zuma and his party was successful and that the objection against his candidature had been dismissed.