Leader of South Africa’s Assembly Resigns Amid Corruption Allegations

The speaker of South Africa’s National Assembly resigned on Wednesday, a day after a judge cleared the way for her to be arrested on charges that she took bribes when she served as defense minister.

The resignation of the speaker, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, comes amid a tense, weekslong standoff with law enforcement officials over a corruption case that has dealt a blow to the governing African National Congress two months before a critical national election.

On Tuesday, a judge threw out Ms. Mapisa-Nqakula’s court application seeking to prevent her arrest. As of Wednesday afternoon, she had not turned herself in to the authorities.

Ms. Mapisa-Nqakula, who fought against the apartheid regime as an A.N.C. activist in exile, maintained her innocence in a news release announcing her resignation. Part of her decision to step down, she said, was to “protect the image of our organization, the African National Congress.”

“My resignation is in no way an indication or admission of guilt regarding the allegations being leveled against me,” she added. “I have made this decision in order to uphold the integrity and sanctity of our Parliament.”

The National Assembly is the more powerful of the two houses of South Africa’s Parliament.

Her potential arrest exposes the A.N.C. to one of its greatest vulnerabilities — charges of corruption — ahead of elections on May 29 in which the party faces the threat of losing its absolute majority in the national government for the first time since the end of apartheid 30 years ago.

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