Posted: 05:27 AM ET

CAPETOWN, South Africa (CNN) — Legislators in South Africa were poised Thursday to elect the country's next president.

Kgalema Motlanthe (kah-lay-MAH mocht-LAHN-tay), deputy president of the African National Congress, is widely expected to become South Africa's president. He would serve until national elections scheduled for next spring.

Motlanthe would replace Thabo Mbeki, who led South Africa for nearly 10 years and announced Sunday that he would resign.

Motlanthe is a left-leaning intellectual with roots in South African labor unions.

A spokesman for South Africa's ruling party, the African National Congress, has said that the party picked Motlanthe as its choice to succeed Mbeki. Because the ANC holds a majority in the National Assembly, lawmakers will most likely vote for the ANC nominee.

Motlanthe would remain in office until elections next spring, which ANC President Jacob Zuma is widely expected to win.

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