Interim Prez Takes Reins in South Africa

Motlanthe viewed as able to ease tensions within ruling party
By Ambreen Ali,  Newser User
Posted Sep 25, 2008 11:30 AM CDT
Jacob Zuma was at Parliament in Cape Town to attend a special sitting to elect a new president.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Kgalema Motlanthe was sworn in as South Africa’s caretaker president today after winning three-quarters of a parliamentary ballot, the BBC reports. The left-leaning intellectual is seen as someone who can ease rifts between supporters of Jacob Zuma, head of the African National Congress party head, and former President Thabo Mbeki.

Imprisoned with Nelson Mandela during apartheid, Motlanthe was influenced by revolutionary ideology and served as an activist and ANC soldier, the Guardian notes. The Zuma ally risked his political reputation to defend the party leader against corruption allegations from Mbeki, but was appointed minister by the ex-president. A local paper describes him as "calm, respected, and trust-inspiring."