Polls close and South Africa counts votes in election framed as its most important since apartheid

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — South Africans voted Wednesday at schools, community centers, and in large white tents set up in open fields in an election seen as their country's most important since apartheid ended 30 years ago. It could put the young democracy into unknown territory.

At stake is the three-decade dominance of the African National Congress party, which led South Africa out of apartheid's brutal white minority rule and to democracy in 1994. It is now the target of a new generation of discontent in a country of 62 million people — half of whom are estimated to be living in poverty.

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