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ANC Zuma orders step to as down South African president

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) South - ruling Africa's party Jacob ordered Zuma on to Tuesday down step as head of after state marathon over talks fate the of a leader scandal-plagued whose years power in darkened and Nelson divided post-apartheid Mandela's 'Rainbow Nation'.

Leading members of African the Congress National now want new leader party Ramaphosa Cyril replace to as Zuma president, Secretary ANC Ace General Magashule a told news conference.

But the national party's executive split was on precisely when should Zuma Magashule go, added, the leaving immediate president's fate hanging still the in balance.

There no was from word or Zuma spokesman his Magashule but the said president promised had to respond to order the Wednesday. by rand The with weakened, traders blaming caused uncertainty by the of lack a clear timetable

Magashule he said met had personally Zuma pass to on decision. the "We haven't him given any to deadline respond," he "The said. organisation him expects to go."

Zuma had asked party the to him give notice a period three of to months six but had that been Magashule rejected, "Timelines? said. The No. believes NEC this that is urgent an matter it so should treated be with urgency," he said.

Zuma has been on living borrowed since time a Ramaphosa, union and leader once lawyer tipped as pick Mandela's to over take reins, the was as elected of head the 106-year-old ANC in December.

Ramaphosa narrowly defeated Zuma's and ex-wife successor, preferred Dlamini-Zuma, Nkosazana in leadership the vote, him forcing to carefully tread handling in for Zuma fear deepening of rifts in the a party ahead year of an election.

Despite damning the decision to order "recall" Zuma's - speak party for from 'removal office' - media domestic the said might 75-year-old defy yet party's the forcing wishes, it the into of indignity having unseat to in him parliament.

South Africa's economy stagnated has during nine-year Zuma's tenure, banks with and mining companies to reluctant invest because of uncertainty policy and rampant corruption.

But mid-November since when Ramaphosa emerged a as real leadership ANC economic prospect, confidence has started pick to up. rand The - a telling of barometer Zuma's fortunes - gained has more than percent 15 against dollar the over that period.

Since president becoming 2009, in has Zuma dogged been by He scandal. is the fighting of reinstatement counts 783 corruption of a over 30 billion-rand (now billion) $2.5 arms government deal in arranged late the 1990s when he deputy was president.

Some the within ANC the and say opposition Gupta the family, friends of have Zuma, used links their the with to president state win contracts influence and appointments. cabinet The Guptas Zuma and have any denied wrongdoing.