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S. Africa Deputy President Denies Challenge to Zuma

Deputy President of South Africa Kgalema Petrus Motlanthe, June 8, 2011

Deputy President of South Africa Kgalema Petrus Motlanthe, June 8, 2011

South Africa's deputy president has denied that he is campaigning to replace Jacob Zuma as head of the ruling party when it elects new leaders next year.

Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, who is also deputy leader of the ruling African National Congress, said that he is "not involved in any campaigning or lobbying for the presidency of the ANC and has not spoken to anyone about his future role" in the party.

The comments came in a statement released through the office of the South African presidency late Monday. Later, the office announced that Motlanthe was taking a five-day vacation.

South Africa's Sunday Independent reported that Motlanthe has said he is ready to lead the ANC, if factions in the party can build up support for him.

Zuma was elected president of the ANC in 2007, two years before being elected president of South Africa.

The ANC has been the country's dominant party since the end of apartheid in the mid-1990s.

Some left-wing elements of the ANC are unhappy with President Zuma, who they say has not done enough to help the poor and working class.

Motlanthe previously served as South Africa's president in a caretaker government during 2008 and 2009, before Zuma's election.

The Sunday Independent said Motlanthe does not want to campaign openly for the ANC leadership because that would "sour relations" with President Zuma.