Next April named for first all-race elections in South Africa

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The Independent Online
JOHANNESBURG - South Africa's multi-party negotiation forum, led by the African National Congress and the government, agreed last night to propose 27 April next year as the date for the first all-race democratic elections in the country's history, writes John Carlin.

However, nine of the 26 parties represented at the talks expressed reservations about the date, which will be settled at a meeting on 15 June.

'This date will reverberate throughout the length and breadth of the country,' said Cyril Ramaphosa, leading the ANC delegation to the constitutional negotiations outside Johannesburg.

The adjournment would give delegates opposed to the setting of a date the opportunity to consult their leaders, Mr Ramaphosa said. The negotiators have agreed to reach accord by 'general consensus' and not by voting.

It was touch-and-go during two hours of intensive debate last night whether, even provisionally, a date would be agreed. Delegates of the Inkatha Freedom Party and their allies in the white conservative groups and from the black 'homelands' insisted repeatedly that the negotiating process was moving too fast. But ANC radical leaders had threatened that township youth would launch mass protests if yesterday's deadline for naming a date was not met.

What finally won the day was a compromise proposal by Mr Ramaphosa that the agreement should be finalised only on 15 June.