South Africa's ruling ANC said on Wednesday it had accepted the resignation of a senior provincial executive, but denied he was forced out as part of a purge against allies of President Thabo Mbeki.
Analysts say divisions have emerged within the ANC after Jacob Zuma, who enjoys the support of the party's labour union and communist party allies, defeated Mbeki at a leadership contest in December.
Zuma is widely expected to succeed Mbeki as president after an election next year. The constitution bars Mbeki from serving more than two terms.
Zuma has over the last few months sought to soothe fears among local and foreign investors that a government under his leadership would abandon the business-friendly policies pursued by Mbeki.
On Wednesday the ANC said Western Cape premier Ebrahim Rasool, an outspoken supporter of Mbeki, would leave office at the end of the week, but denied he was being purged.
"There is no process of punishment. There is no process of purging," said the ANC's national chairwoman Baleka Mbete.
"This is political intervention in order to give the ANC a chance to be able to work better as we now have to begin to focus on preparing for the next elections," she told reporters.
The ouster of Rasool, who is of mixed race, has divided the party among racial lines in the province, sparking suggestion the ANC could lose some supporters there to the opposition Democratic Alliance next year.
Last Mod: 23 Temmuz 2008, 14:21