Ramaphosa said Sheikh Khalifa would be remembered for his tireless efforts in enhancing bilateral relations between South Africa and the UAE.
PRESIDENT Cyril Ramaphosa has joined other world leaders in conveying his condolences following the passing of United Arab Emirates (UAE) President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
The UAE head of state died on Friday at the age of 73, after a long illness.
He had been in power since 2004 and was the second president of the UAE as well as the 16th ruler of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.
In a statement released by the Presidency on Saturday night, Ramaphosa said: “We offer our deepest condolences to His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, Ruler of Dubai and Acting President of the United Arab Emirates, as well as to Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. We extend our sympathies to the rulers and royal family as well as the government and people of the United Arab Emirates. We mourn with them and share in their loss.”
Ramaphosa said Sheikh Khalifa would be “remembered for his tireless efforts in enhancing bilateral relations between South Africa and the UAE and promoting the interests of the South African government and people”, adding: “These relations were further strengthened by the state visits of former South African heads of state.”
Earlier, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Sheikh Khalifa had played an active role in strengthening relations and co-operation between Russia and the UAE, while US President Joe Biden said that in Sheikh Khalifa’s honour he would continue strengthening the long-standing ties between the two governments.
Sheikh Khalifa’s brother, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who is also known as MBZ, has since been elected as the UAE’s new president.
The UAE Federal Supreme Council announced on Saturday that the 61-year-old de facto ruler would take over the reins immediately.
MBZ is also the deputy supreme commander of the UAE Armed Forces and has been integral in overseeing important state work as Sheikh Khalifa often found himself seized with health challenges over the past few years.
Paying tribute to the late leader, he said: “My brother and mentor, and the UAE’s first son, we were blessed by your strength, wisdom and leadership. May God have mercy on your soul and may you rest in peace.”