President Jacob Zuma of South Africa is considering offering to step down in 2018, at least 12 months before his term ends, senior party sources told Reuters n Thursday.
"The offer, is under a deal with opponents in his ruling party that would see Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan leave office now", two sources exclusively told Reuters.
Mr. Zuma is due to be replaced as party leader at an African National Congress (ANC) party conference in December after serving his allocated two terms, but was expected to remain the country’s president until elections in 2019.
Mr. Zuma’s spokesman did not respond to several calls for comment.
The offer appears intended as a way out of an impasse over the country’s leadership within the divided ANC, but may not be enough to satisfy opponents of Mr. Zuma, who want the president out early anyway and urgently want Gordhan to stay.
There is precedent for an ANC leader to leave the presidency early.
Thabo Mbeki was removed by the ANC as South African president in 2008 after his time as party leader ended at the close of the previous year.
A split in the ANC deepened on Tuesday after Mr. Zuma ordered Gordhan to return from an investor roadshow in Britain, raising expectations of a cabinet reshuffle that markets fear will include Mr. Gordhan’s removal.