South Africa’s Jacob Zuma will not be among the African leaders gathering in Liberia’s capital, Monrovia, today for George Weah’s presidential inauguration.
The president will instead be represented by South Africa’s Minister of Water and Sanitation, Nomvula Mokonyane.
The announcement appears to have only been made yesterday.
However, the statement released to local media in South Africa gives little explanation as to why Mr Zuma – who was replaced as the head of the governing African National Congress (ANC) in December – will not attend.
According to The Citizen newspaper, presidential spokesman Bongani Ngqulunga said in a statement: “Liberia and South Africa share strong economic and trade relations, further cemented during a state visit to South Africa by the outgoing President, Her Excellency Ellen Johnson Sirleaf last year.
“President Sirleaf is leaving office after serving two six-year terms as Africa’s first elected female Head of State.”
Rumours of a power struggle between Mr Zuma and his successor as ANC leader, Cyril Ramaphosa, continue to circulate.
Mr Ramaphosa is tipped to succeed Mr Zuma should the ANC win the 2019 election. However, whether Mr Zuma will still be in power then remains to be seen, following reports that the ANC wants Mr Zuma, hit by numerous corruption scandals, to make a “dignified” exit .