JOHANNESBURG, Dec 16 (Reuters) - South Africa's ruling African National Congress elects a new party leader to succeed President Jacob Zuma at a conference starting on Saturday.
The winner will be favourite to become president of the country after a 2019 national election.
Below are the main ANC leadership hopefuls. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and Cyril Ramaphosa are the two front runners.
The former minister and chairwoman of the African Union Commission has served in the cabinets of every South African president in the post-apartheid era.
Dlamini-Zuma was married to President Zuma for over a decade and has four children with him.
She is backed by the ANC's influential women's and youth leagues, as well as by Zuma and provincial party leaders close to him.
For a profile of Dlamini-Zuma, see.
The deputy president and former trade union leader is one of South Africa's richest people.
Ramaphosa played an important role in the negotiations to end apartheid and in the drafting of South Africa's progressive 1996 constitution.
He is supported by a diverse group of labour unions, communists and ANC members disillusioned with Zuma.
For a profile of Ramaphosa, see.
The ANC's treasurer general is one of the ruling party's "top six" senior leaders.
A medical doctor by training, Mkhize also served as a party boss in the KwaZulu-Natal province, from where Zuma and Dlamini-Zuma hail.
Some analysts see Mkhize as a compromise candidate for ANC leader who could reconcile the opposing factions supporting Dlamini-Zuma and Ramaphosa.
For a Reuters interview with Mkhize, see:.
The human settlements minister is the daughter of anti-apartheid activist Walter Sisulu, a close friend of Nelson Mandela.
Sisulu says Ramaphosa approached her to be his running mate but she turned down the offer.
The minister in the presidency has also held senior cabinet positions including public enterprises minister.
He served in underground structures of the ANC during white minority rule and was imprisoned on Robben Island, where the apartheid government kept political prisoners.
The former premier of the Mpumalanga province has also worked as the ANC's treasurer general.
Phosa has demanded that nominations for ANC leader in Mpumalanga be re-run, as he says he has proof that party members were told how to vote.
Mpumalanga's current premier is a Zuma loyalist, David Mabuza, who is viewed by some as a kingmaker in the ANC race.
The speaker of South Africa's lower house of parliament also briefly served as deputy president.
She has said she has held talks with other leadership hopefuls to discuss the possibility of working together.
(Reporting by Alexander Winning; Editing by James Macharia and Giles Elgood)
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