South African election date set
By Norm Dixon
South Africa is likely to hold its first non-racial general election next April 27, it was announced on June 3. The African National Congress described the announcement as a vital breakthrough.
The date is subject to ratification by a full meeting of the 26-party Negotiation Forum on June 25.
The election will result in the formation of a constituent assembly to draft a post-apartheid democratic constitution. The vote will be carried out under a system of proportional representation and is likely to be conducted over a three-day period.
A government of national unity will be formed from among those parties receiving at least 5% of the vote. Parties will be represented in the executive in proportion to the percentage of the vote they receive, and the majority party will determine the president.
The provisional date emerged following a marathon meeting of representatives of the 26 organisations participating in the negotiations. The meeting lasted three hours longer than scheduled because of unsuccessful attempts by a bloc of the Inkatha Freedom Party and the white supremacist Conservative Party to stall agreement.
Despite some fears that April 27 will not be endorsed by the full Negotiation Forum meeting on June 25, the support of both the ANC, which proposed the date, and the National Party government makes its adoption almost certain.
The South African Communist Party and the trade union movement have promised to resume their campaign of mass action if the date is not endorsed.