Zuma formally chosen as president

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South Africa's parliament chose Jacob Zuma as president today after the resounding election victory of his ruling African National Congress, capping a remarkable political comeback.

After an eight-year battle against corruption charges that threatened to ruin him, Zuma takes on an economy that may already be in its first recession in 17 years, and challenges such as widespread poverty, crime and AIDS.

The new government is expected to leave conservative monetary and fiscal policies in place in Africa's biggest economy to cushion the impact of the global credit crunch and reassure investors who fear Zuma may steer the economy to the left.

Zuma was nominated by Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Nelson Mandela's former wife, herself returning to parliament from the political wilderness after a fraud conviction and known for her revolutionary rhetoric.

"He is a capable leader that epitomises our continued and resilient struggle against the worst that humanity has to offer and the hope that we as a nation shall triumph against all odds," she said in her speech.

The Congress of the People, a party formed by breakaway ANC members before the election, nominated Methodist minister Mvume Dandala as its candidate to jeers from the parliament, where the ruling party holds 264 of the 400 seats.

Zuma, a charismatic former freedom fighter, whose graft charges were dropped just before the April 22 poll, will be inaugurated on Saturday and will name a cabinet on Sunday at 1200 GMT.

The fate of Finance Minister Trevor Manuel, widely respected by financial markets, will be closely watched by investors hoping for continuity.

The ANC is still widely respected for its struggle against white-minority rule so voters in the election overlooked its policy failures.

But it will come under growing pressure to deliver on 15 years of promises to help millions of black South Africans still living in grim townships.