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Wednesday, December 17, 1997 Published at 13:59 GMT



World

Mbeki elected ANC president
image: [ Thabo Mbeki will lead the ANC in South Africa's 1999 general election ]
Thabo Mbeki will lead the ANC in South Africa's 1999 general election

Thabo Mbeki has succeeded Nelson Mandela as president of the ruling African National Congress party in South Africa.

Mr Mbeki, 55, stood as the only candidate for the post of president at the ANC's 50th annual conference in Mafikeng and was the choice of Mr Mandela, who remains South African President until the 1999 general election.

He received a standing ovation from the floor of the conference when the nomination was confirmed.

Jacob Zuma was chosen as deputy president after Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Mr Mandela's former wife, was forced to pull out of the contest before the vote.

Mr Mandela has described Mr Mbeki as a "man of exception quality." He will now lead the ANC in the election, scheduled for April 1999 or soon after.

Born in the Eastern Cape homeland in 1942, Mr Mbeki has long been a key ANC figure.

He worked closely with the party's former leader in exile, Oliver Tambo, in the 1960s and joined the ANC's executive committee in 1975.

He is reportedly a private man but drives a motorcade longer than Mr Mandela's.

Some South Africans are concerned the man likely to become their president remains an unknown quantity.

"The truth is that South Africa is about to be ruled by a man whom the country simply does not know," The Mail and Guardian said last week.

Mr Mbeki is scheduled to make a major speech on Saturday. But it is clear he does not intend to veer far from the path set by his predecessor.

"There will not be a change of policy," he said recently. "All of the major elements of that policy - reconciliation, transformation, change of the state's machinery, achieving a high and sustained rate of economic growth and development, the foreign policy stance of the country - I don't think any of these things will change."
 





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