September 20, 2008 / 12:17 PM / 9 years ago

FACTBOX: South Africa's Thabo Mbeki

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(Reuters) - South Africa's ruling ANC said on Saturday it had decided to recall President Thabo Mbeki before the end of his term next year.

Here are some key facts about him:

* The son of one of an earlier generation of African National Congress leaders, Mbeki was elected in 1999 to succeed anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela as South Africa's second black president.

* Mbeki emerged as a cerebral leader who was always willing to stand his ground despite criticism of his policies. South Africa's economy has grown steadily under his rule, but his opponents say he favored business at the cost of the poor.

* Mbeki was born in June 1942 in the agricultural village of Idutywa in southeastern Transkei region. At 14, he joined the ANC Youth League and at 19 he was ordered by the ANC to leave the country for education to prepare for a leading role.

* He earned a master's degree in economics at Sussex University in Britain and underwent military training in the Soviet Union, a key backer of the ANC's armed campaign against apartheid.

* Mbeki was re-elected in 2004 for the second term as president permitted under South Africa's constitution. But in late 2007 he lost an ANC leadership contest to rival Jacob Zuma, now tipped to succeed him as state president.

* Long accused of taking too soft an approach to Zimbabwe's crisis, Mbeki this month brokered a power-sharing deal between veteran Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

* But any credit from the deal was overshadowed when a South African court called off a corruption case against Zuma and said there had been political meddling in the affair. Some ANC members said Mbeki should be forced out as a result.

* Tragedy has never been far from Mbeki. His father, Govan Mbeki, was jailed for 30 years. His own illegitimate son, born when he was 16, and his brother, Jama, are missing and presumed killed while working for the party against white rule.

Writing by David Cutler, London Editorial Reference Unit; Editing by Mark Trevelyan

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