De Klerk and Mandela map way to peace

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The Independent Online
NELSON Mandela and F W de Klerk each declared their eight-hour summit last night a success and agreed a firm basis had been laid for the resumption of negotiations for elections to a constituent assembly which will also serve as an interim government.

'The channels of communication are now open,' said Mr de Klerk. 'There is no reason why a political settlement should not be reached within a relatively short period,' said Mr Mandela. Eager as both leaders were in a press conference to convey a sense of unity of purpose, disagreement emerged over a government decision unilaterally to introduce legislation granting a general amnesty - clearly intended to absolve state officials of political crimes.

All smiles and shaking hands for the cameras, the presidents of the South African government and of the African National Congress released a joint statement, which they called a 'record of understanding'. The summit had 'laid the basis for the resumption of negotiations'. These were broken off by the ANC on 23 June, following the Boipatong massacre.

The statement ratified agreement on the release of political prisoners - a first batch of 150 are being freed this weekend - and said that steps would be taken on two outstanding issues raised by the ANC, the securing of violent township hostels and a ban on the carrying of dangerous weapons. Hostels identified as 'problematic' will be fenced and policed by 15 November 'to prevent criminality by hostel-dwellers' (invariably Inkatha's Zulu supporters) and 'to protect hostel-dwellers'. On the dangerous weapons, the government said it would ban their use on public occasions except in exceptional circumstances.

The ANC promised to re-examine the question of 'mass action' - street mobilisation which the government perceives as provoking violence. On the amnesty question, which the government has sought to link to prisoner releases, Mr Mandela said an interim government should be in place before an amnesty is implemented.

Release of a 'terrorist', page 10

(Photograph omitted)