South Africa's sacked deputy president arrives at his second court appearance

Hundreds of supporters demonstrated outside a Durban court Tuesday as South Africa's dismissed deputy president arrived for his second court appearance on corruption charges. Jacob Zuma, who has repeatedly protested his innocence, did not address the crowd before entering the building for what was expected to be a formality before the case is moved to a higher court. Security was tight, and police kept the crowd outside the gates.

President Thabo Mbeki dismissed Zuma as his deputy president in June after a judge found there was evidence of a corrupt relationship between him and his former financial adviser, Schabir Shaik, who was sentenced to 15 years for bribery and fraud.

The case has divided the governing African National Congress and thrown wide open the question of who will succeed Mbeki at the helm of Africa's economic powerhouse when he completes his second and last term in 2009.

Zuma retains his job as ANC deputy president and continues to wield considerable influence among the party rank and file. He also enjoys the backing of trade unions and the ANC's powerful youth wing, which mobilized hundreds of supporters to stage an overnight vigil outside the court on the eve of Zuma's appearance.

The crowd of about 2,000 sang freedom songs and waived placards saying: "Zuma people's choice" and "Innocent until proven guilty," reports the AP. I.L.

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