Résultats définitifs :
Democratic Alliance: 16.66%
Votes counted: 17.68m
Turnout: 77.3% Source: IEC
ANC is denied two-thirds majority
The ruling African National Congress (ANC) has won South Africa's general election but failed to obtain a two-thirds majority, final results show.
The party received 65.9% of about 17m votes, the Democratic Alliance 16.66% and the Congress of the People (Cope) 7.42%, election officials said.
A two-thirds majority in parliament is needed to change the constitution.
The outcome clears the way for ANC party leader Jacob Zuma to become president when parliament convenes.
ANC supporters have been holding celebrations around the country ahead of the announcement of the final results.
The ANC lost the Western Cape province to its rivals - the only such defeat.
The election turnout was extremely high, as much as 80% in some places, in the country's fourth and most competitive poll since the end of apartheid 15 years ago.
In Kwazu-Natal, home province of ANC leader Jacob Zuma, the ANC says it has taken all the strongholds of the Inkatha Freedom Party, giving it an outright majority there for the first time.
"It is a joyous if not an outright emotional day for the ANC," the South African Press Association quoted ANC provincial secretary Senzo Mchunu as saying.
Meanwhile, DA leader Helen Zille returned home to Cape Town to a hero's welcome.
She said the party would be looking to form a coalition.
Analysts say this is likely to be with Cope, formed by dissident ANC supporters of former President Thabo Mbeki who resigned last year after losing a power struggle with Mr Zuma.
Much has been made of the ANC getting two-thirds of the vote, the majority needed to push through constitutional changes.
But the ANC has said it has no intention of changing the constitution as it co-authored it - and Mr Zuma is set to become the country's next leader as parliament elects the president by a simple majority.
Mr Zuma, a populist who spent 10 years in prison during the apartheid era for ANC membership, faces challenges including a struggling economy and soaring violent crime.
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Charges of corruption against the 67-year-old were dropped just two weeks before the poll after state prosecutors said there had been political interference in the case.
The BBC's Africa analyst Martin Plaut says the ANC leader is still something of an enigma - part Zulu traditionalist, part international leader who jets around the world.
During the fight against apartheid Mr Zuma was head of internal security for the ANC, when some people were killed and some tortured.
It is not clear how much he knew or sanctioned, says our correspondent.
But Mr Zuma is also a skilled conciliator, credited with ending the political violence in KwaZulu-Natal and helping to bring peace to Burundi.
African Union observer mission head Salim Ahmed Salim said the poll had been free, fair, transparent and credible.
Its vibrancy "had done honour not only to the people of South Africa but to Africa as a whole", he said.
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Published: 2009/04/25 11:29:12 GMT