24 July 2012
South African President Jacob Zuma has congratulated India’s Congress heavyweight and former finance minister, Pranab Mukherjee, on being elected the 13th President of India on Sunday.
India’s President is a ceremonial head of state and is elected by an electoral college comprising Members of Parliament and state legislators.
India’s executive head of state is Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
‘Engaging India at the highest level’
In a statement on Monday, Zuma said South Africa looked forward to continuing its engagements with India at the highest level.
“South Africa will also explore new opportunities in both the bilateral and multilateral environments to engage India in an evolving global environment.”
Noting that India is a strategic partner, Zuma said South Africa’s objective will be to build on the strong bilateral relationship and continue to foster goodwill and sound relations across a broad spectrum.
The two countries are strategic partners at a multilateral level and have created a platform for cooperating in various forums, namely the Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa (BRICS) forum; the India, Brazil, South Africa (IBSA); the Brazil, South Africa, India, China – a climate change-specific forum; Group of 20 (G20) and India- Africa Forum, all of which reinforce the strong bilateral relationship between the two countries.
Mukherjee defeated his main challenger and former parliament speaker, P.A. Sangma, by more than 50%.
He was nominated by the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance to contest the presidential poll held on 19 July and has held key portfolios like defence and foreign ministries in his political career spanning over 43 years.
The 77-year-old Mukherjee will be sworn in as the country’s President by the Chief Justice of India on Wednesday, succeeding the incumbent Head of State Pratibha Patil whose five-year term ends on the same day.