- As Japan plans to extend sanctions against N Korea, amid nuclear threat
Protesters are marching in cities across South Africa including Cape Town, Durban, and the capital, Pretoria calling for the removal of President Jacob Zuma.
The protests come after Mr Zuma’s sacking of a respected finance minister, which led to the country’s credit rating being cut to junk status.
The move added pressure to South Africa’s already embattled economy.
But supporters of Mr Zuma have also turned out to defend the president.
This week Mr Zuma survived calls by powerful groups allied to the governing ANC for him to go. He also got the making of a major decision-making body within the party.
In Johannesburg, there was a heavy police presence as protesters planned to converge near the ANC headquarters.
Hundreds of veterans of the ANC’s armed anti-apartheid struggle and members of the ruling party’s youth wing also gathered outside its headquarters to protect the building.
Police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters in one part of Johannesburg, local media are reporting.
Authorities earlier warned motorists to avoid the city’s central business district.
Pictures shared on social media on Friday showed large crowds assembling in Church Square in Pretoria, despite confusion over whether demonstrations in the capital are permitted by law.
Police said on Thursday that marches in Pretoria were illegal because they had not been granted permission by city authorities. But this was later overturned by a magistrate.
Protesters in the capital later marched to the seat of government, the Union Buildings, waving placards that read: “South Africa is not for sale.”
The BBC’s Karen Allen, in Pretoria, said that despite a heavy police presence, the protest there was going ahead peacefully.
In Durban, banners stating “Jacob Zuma must step down” were draped from buildings as part of nationwide demonstrations. Protesters marched through the city with their faces painted, carrying messages of “downgrade Zuma, not South Africa” in reference to the country’s amended credit rating.
In the meantime, Japanese government on Friday decided to extend unilateral sanctions against North Korea by two years amid a nuclear missile threat from the reclusive state.
The government said the decision came amid virtually no progress on the issue of North Korea’s abductions of Japanese nationals in the 1970s and 1980s.
Tokyo also condemned Pyongyang’s nuclear tests and a series of ballistic missile launches.
On Wednesday, Pyongyang had test-fired a ballistic missile into the East Sea, prompting a swift rebuke from Japan and South Korea.
Tokyo will continue its trade embargo and a ban on the entry into Japanese ports of North Korean ships and on chartered flights between the two countries, Kyodo News agency reported.
“Japan will exert all efforts for the comprehensive resolution of outstanding issues of concern, such as the abductions, nuclear, and missile issues,” Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters.
BBC with additional report from NAN