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Last Updated: Friday, 21 December 2007, 17:52 GMT
Mbeki defiant after defeat by ANC
South African President Thabo Mbeki (16 December)
Mr Mbeki was defeated by Jacob Zuma as party leader on Tuesday
South African President Thabo Mbeki has said his government will stay in office despite huge losses in elections for senior African National Congress posts.

Mr Mbeki told a news conference in Pretoria that his government would serve until its term expired in 2009.

Jacob Zuma, who defeated Mr Mbeki in the vote for ANC leader, has said the pair can work together.

But a BBC correspondent says questions continue to be raised about having two centres of power in South Africa.

"I have no reason to assume that there would be anything that would stop the government serving the full term for which it was elected," Mr Mbeki said.

"So I would expect the government to serve its term until the elections in 2009," the president added.

Unity call

Mr Mbeki urged ANC members to "respond positively" to Mr Zuma's promise to "develop smooth working relations between government and the ruling party".

ANC COMMITTEE
IN:
Winnie Madikizela-Mandela
Tony Yengeni, former chief whip, convicted of corruption
Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge, sacked deputy health minister
Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang (known as Dr Beetroot)
OUT - Mbeki loyalists:
Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka
Defence Minister Mosiuoa Lekota
Pahad brothers

Elections for the ANC's National Executive Committee (NEC) confirmed the groundswell of support for Mr Zuma in the party, with several cabinet ministers close to Mr Mbeki being voted off the committee.

The ex-wife of former President Nelson Mandela, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, emerged top in the NEC vote in the northern town of Polokwane, endorsed by 2,845 of the 3,605 delegates.

She has not been active in the ANC since 2003, when she was convicted of fraud.

Among the prominent Mbeki allies who did not make it onto the NEC were national Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Minister in the Presidency Essop Pahad and his brother, Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Aziz Pahad.

JACOB ZUMA
File photograph of Jacob Zuma
Played key role in fight against apartheid
Plagued by corruption allegations
Acquitted on rape charges
Seen as charismatic

Mr Zuma could still face new corruption charges, which prosecutors say are imminent. He has said he is ready to go to court to clear his name.

Referring to the allegations against his rival, Mr Mbeki said: "All of us in the ANC have insisted, even... Zuma himself, that the law must take its course."

Mr Zuma's supporters have always said the charges are part of a political conspiracy against him.

On Thursday, chief prosecutor Mokotedi Mpshe told South Africa's 702 Talk Radio that the investigation into Mr Zuma was complete, and that "all we are doing now is tying [up] the loose ends".

Mr Zuma refused to comment, only saying: "We'll cross that bridge when we come to it."

The charges relate to a controversial arms deal, which saw Mr Zuma's adviser Schabir Shaik jailed for 15 years.



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