Zuma applauds re-election of Merkel

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Pretoria- President Jacob Zuma has joined other world leaders in congratulating German Chancellor Angela Merkel for winning a second term during Sunday's election in Germany.

"It is with great pleasure that I take this opportunity to convey to Your Excellency, on behalf of the Government and people of the Republic of South Africa, sincere congratulations on your re-election as the new Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany," the President said in a message.

President Zuma hoped that the two countries would strengthen already good relations based on common interest such as the promotion of human rights, constructive roles in conflict resolution, capacity building and peacekeeping in Africa.

"I firmly believe that this already excellent relationship will be reaffirmed and consolidated during your second term as Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany."

Exit polls showed that Merkel and her preferred partner, the Free Democrats (FDP), won Sunday's general election with 48.3 percent. The two parties are planning a new government for the next four years.

The two together have a comfortable 332 seats in the 622-member Parliament.

"Our main objective has been achieved, namely a change of government, which for me is what really counts this evening," Merkel said on Sunday.

Unemployment, which Merkel identified as her top priority, stands at 8.3 percent but is forecast to shoot higher in the coming months.

However, Germany which is Europe's biggest economy has been hit harder than most by the global recession, slamming demand for its all-important exports and sending the country into its steepest recession since World War II.

South Africa and Germany enjoy fruitful bilateral political, economic and trade relations.

Bilateral relations include trade and investment, science and technology, defence, culture, environment, tourism, sport, development co-operation as well as energy. In 2007, Germany was South Africa's second largest export market.