South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa will not attend the UN General Assembly meeting in New York later this month.
Instead, he says he will stay in the country to focus on “critical” domestic issues including the recent spate of xenophobic violence and the spate of attacks on women.
Mr Ramaphosa “decided to remain in South Africa to attend to the implementation of [the] government’s urgent measures on gender-based violence, the restoration of order and stability in areas affected by public violence, and to oversee initiatives to turn around the economy,” his spokeswoman said in a statement.
As well as the recent attacks on foreign people and their property, there is growing concern in South Africa about violence against women following a number of high-profile rape cases and murders.
Mr Ramaphosa has promised a series of measures to tackle the crisis – including making public a register of offenders, increasing the number of “dedicated sexual offences courts”, and harsher sentences.
On Thursday, new official crime figures were released which showed that sexual offences and murder rates had risen significantly over the past year.