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S. African Leader Sees End to Isolation in Black Vote

June 29, 1989|From Associated Press

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — The leader of the governing National Party said today that the party's plan to eventually give blacks a direct vote in national affairs will end South Africa's isolation.

Anti-apartheid activists and conservatives reacted with skepticism to the proposal, which envisions blacks having a vote in national affairs within five years. Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who won the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize for his fight against apartheid, rejected the plan outright.

The plan is part of the party's proposed election platform, which also holds out the possibility of giving the black majority a voice in writing a new constitution.

The party opened a one-day congress in Pretoria today to adopt the platform. Adoption would be informal, without a vote.

Party leader F. W. de Klerk, designated to replace retiring President Pieter W. Botha after the Sept. 6 parliamentary elections, opened the meeting by saying the party could lead the country back into the international community, which has condemned South Africa's system of racial separation.

"Our cause is just and the doors must open. We will not have to go crawling back; we will walk in proudly and with our heads high," said De Klerk, who wept when the 1,500 delegates greeted him with a standing ovation in Pretoria City Hall.

A less enthusiastic ovation followed his brief tribute to Botha, who did not attend the meeting. The two have had strained relations since March, when party leaders indicated that they wanted Botha to resign so De Klerk could take over.

An editorial in the anti-apartheid Cape Times of Cape Town complained that the proposal provides for a bill of rights only as a "possible option" and fails to say how blacks would be incorporated into the government.

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