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ANC conference marked by dissent

Dec. 17, 2007 at 12:04 PM

POLOKWANE, South Africa, Dec. 17 (UPI) -- South African President Thabo Mbeki's bid to be re-elected may be in jeopardy as ANC conference delegates in Polokwane booed him and called for change.

The ANC national conference opened Sunday. Insiders told the Cape Argus of Cape Town, South Africa, that Mbeki could have his authority restored and be elected to a third term through an electoral victory.

Opposition leader Jacob Zuma's trademark "Umshini wami" was sung frequently, including after Mbeki wrapped up his report, the newspaper reported Monday. But the president's backers hit back, complaining to the national executive committee about the behavior of the hecklers.

Meanwhile, ANC Chairman Mosiuoa Lekota was criticized by both sides. Mbeki's supporters said they believed Lekota was too lenient with rowdy delegates while those in the camp of opposition leader Jacob Zuma questioned the chairman's impartiality.

ANC icon Nelson Mandela said in a recorded message played at the conference that delegates faced "important decision" but the ANC was a strong political movement because "its members were always called upon to make serious decisions for the people and the country."

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