Zuma Loyalist Will Become South African President

Motlanthe will serve as caretaker ahead of 2009 elections
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 22, 2008 8:34 AM CDT
Former African National Congress (ANC) deputy president Jacob Zuma, second from right, reacts to being elected ANC president, after beating South African President Thabo Mbeki to lead the party, as newly...   (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)
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(Newser) – The African National Congress has chosen Kgalema Motlanthe, a moderate intellectual and the ruling party's No. 2, to be South Africa's caretaker president, Reuters reports. He will fill the job vacated by Thabo Mbeki, who resigned this weekend after the party demanded he step down. Motlanthe is a loyalist of Jacob Zuma, the head of the ANC, and could be confirmed as president as soon as today.

The choice of Motlanthe, who was imprisoned with Nelson Mandela on Robben Island during the years of apartheid, is intended to calm fears among international economists that South Africa is in crisis. He is expected to serve until next April, when South Africans go to the polls in a presidential election that Zuma is all but guaranteed to win.