[QODLink]
Africa
S Africa set for new president
ANC's Motlanthe expected to receive overwhelming backing in parliamentary vote.
Last Modified: 25 Sep 2008 11:22 GMT

Motlanthe is expected to receive overwhelming support from the ANC [AFP]

South Africa's ruling African National Congress (ANC) party is set to elect Kgalema Motlanthe, its deputy president, as the country's next president, after Thabo Mbeki bowed to party pressure to step down.

Motlanthe is expected to receive overwhelming backing from the party at a meeting in the National Assembly in Cape Town on Thursday.

He is expected to act as a caretaker president until elections in April 2009.

Jane Dutton, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Cape Town, said: "The official opposition party has put up its candidate, but consdiering the majority of the ANC, Kgalema Motlanthe will be the man to be sworn in."

Caretaker president

Nic Borain, a political analyst, told Al Jazeera, that Motlanthe was considered a good compromise candidate to lead the country into the next election.

"He's very much a caretaker candidate waiting for Jacob Zuma to take over next year ... he's a steady hand," he said.

"He's seen as very presentable and gives exactly the right image to the markets and, as a representative of the whole of South Africa, he is an entirely appropriate candidate."

Asked about fears by some within the ANC that Motlanthe might turn out to be a rival to Zuma in next year's elections, Borain said: "That's always been something attributed to him mostly by the ANC Youth League ... I think he's a loyal Zuma person."

"In a real way Zuma is the ANC's candidate and Kgalema Motlanthe doesn't have a constituency within the ANC anything like as powerful or as significant as Zuma has."

Mbeki resignation

Mbeki's resignation came after a court threw out corruption charges against Jacob Zuma, the ANC leader and a rival to Mbeki, saying the prosecuting team violated some of Zuma's procedural rights.

Mbeki said the government "never compromised the right of the national prosecuting authority to decide whom it wished to prosecute or not to prosecute".

But he faced criticism over the allegations that he pushed for corruption charges to be brought against Zuma.

The incident exposed rifts in the ANC and the party asked him to step down.

'Devastating news'

Officials said that Mbeki would not attend the swearing in ceremony of his successor on Thursday.

"Mbeki was invited but has declined," an official in parliament's protocol office said.

Robert Mugabe, the Zimbabwean president, called Mbeki's resignation "devastating".

"It's devastating news that President Thabo Mbeki is no longer the President of South Africa, but that is the action of the South African people," Zimbabwean state media reported him as saying in New York, where he is attending the UN general assembly.

Although Mbeki was frequently criticised for taking a soft line with Mugabe in a year of negotiations, he managed earlier this month to broker a power-sharing deal to end Zimbabwe's political crisis, though Mugabe and the opposition are still at loggerheads over cabinet posts.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
Featured on Al Jazeera
An innovative rehabilitation programme offers Danish fighters in Syria an escape route and help without prosecution.
Street tension between radical Muslims and Holland's hard right rises, as Islamic State anxiety grows.
Take an immersive look at the challenges facing the war-torn country as US troops begin their withdrawal.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Featured
More than 400 gaming dens operate on native lands, but critics say social ills and inequality stack the deck.
The Palestinian president is expected to address the UN with a new proposal for the creation of a Palestinian state.
Nearly 1,200 aboriginal females have been killed or disappeared over 30 years with little justice served, critics say.
Ethnic violence has wracked China's restive Xinjiang region, leading to a tight government clampdown.
Malay artists revitalise the art of puppeteering by fusing tradition with modern characters such as Darth Vader.