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Last Updated: Tuesday, 18 December 2007, 13:33 GMT
In pictures: ANC leadership contest

ANC members queue beside a flower bed

Early on Tuesday some of the almost 4,000 members of South Africa's ruling African National Congress (ANC) party began queuing to elect a party leader.

Mbeki supporters raise their fists

The contest between the rivals, President Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma, has revealed deep divisions within the party.

Mbeki supporter raises three fingers

Mr Mbeki is seeking a third term at the helm of the ANC...

Zuma supporters dancing

... but the party's number two, Jacob Zuma, is favourite to win, despite allegations of corruption.

Woman wrapped in an ANC blanket walks by other delegates

If elected, Mr Zuma will become the front-runner to take over as president in 2009, when Mr Mbeki will be obliged to step down after two terms as head of state.

Mbeki supporter holding a cloth emblazoned with Mbeki's portrait

But if Mr Mbeki can hold onto the party leadership, he could work to prevent Mr Zuma reaching the presidency.

Mbeki supporters give the three finger sign

The five-day conference is taking place in the country's northern town of Polokwane. It opened on Sunday.

Voter wearing a shirt with former president Nelson Mandela's portrait

Former President Nelson Mandela has said he is saddened by "the nature of the differences currently in the organisation".



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