Hulley didn’t provide details on the charges, but Zuma has been under investigation in a bribery scandal involving French arms company Thint. Mbeki fired Zuma as the country’s deputy president in 2005 after Zuma’s financial adviser was convicted of trying to elicit bribes from the company. Prosecutors contend Zuma was aware of efforts to secure the bribes on his behalf in exchange for using his influence to halt an investigation into a multibillion-dollar arms deal between Thint and the government. Charges against Zuma were thrown out last year on a technicality. But last week, the country’s top prosecutor said he had enough evidence to go back to court. Zuma responded defiantly, saying “take me to court.” Prosecutors pursuing the case against Zuma have won a number of legal victories this year. South Africa’s court of appeal ruled that a police seizure of incriminating documents from Zuma’s home and office was legal.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECoach Doc Rivers a “fan” from way back of Jazz’s Jordan Clarkson But the prospect of a trial against Zuma raised doubts about whether the party would back his candidacy for the next election in 2009, when Mbeki is constitutionally required to step down. A popular former guerrilla fighter, Zuma was handing out presents Friday to children at an annual Christmas party in his rural home village in KwaZulu-Natal. He would not answer questions from reporters about the charges. Zuma, who was acquitted of rape last year, has denied any corruption and has said prosecutors are trying to smear him for political reasons. In e-mail to The Associated Press, Hulley accused prosecutors of acting “with improper motive calculated to discredit Mr. Zuma and ensure that he claims no leadership role in the political future of our country.” He questioned the timing of the prosecution’s decision right after the ANC elections. National Prosecuting Authority spokesman Tlali Tlali declined to comment Friday. JOHANNESBURG, South Africa – The newly elected leader of South Africa’s ruling party was ordered to stand trial on corruption and other charges next year, possibly derailing his attempts to become president. Jacob Zuma will be tried in the high court in August on charges of racketeering, money laundering, corruption and fraud, his lawyer Michael Hulley said Friday. Zuma, 65, defeated President Thabo Mbeki last week in a bitterly contested election for the leadership of African National Congress. The battle left deep rifts in the 85-year-old ANC that Nelson Mandela led to victory over the racist apartheid state. The ANC leader is traditionally the party’s presidential candidate, and its overwhelming backing has ensured election victories first for Mandela in 1994, then Mbeki in 1999 and 2004.