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FILE PHOTO: South Africa's President Jacob Zuma attends the 37th Ordinary SADC Summit of Heads of State and Government in the capital, Pretoria,South Africa, August 19, 2017. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko/File Photo

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JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - A South African High Court ruled on Friday that it could not compel President Jacob Zuma to set up a commission of inquiry into alleged influence-peddling in his government.

The opposition Democratic Alliance had asked the court to force Zuma to establish a commission based on a report last year by an anti-graft watchdog into allegations that businessman brothers Ajay, Atul and Rajesh Gupta had influenced the appointment of ministers.

Zuma and the Gupta brothers have denied the accusations.

Zuma has challenged the report in court, arguing that the Public Protector had no right to ask him to form such a commission, as this was the president's prerogative.

"To compel the President at this stage will not only be tantamount to denying the hearing or his day in court, but it will also be understood to mean the Public Protector's powers are unassailable irrespective of the content of the decision, that cannot be correct," Pretoria High Court Judge Motsamai Makume said.

"It will be in the best interests of justice to grant the President a stay of the implementation of the remedial action pending a decision of the review application."

New allegations of inappropriate collusion between state-owned companies and the Gupta brothers have put more pressure on Zuma and ministers close to him.

(Reporting by Olivia Kumwenda-Mtambo and Tanisha Heiberg; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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Reuters