Most of the difficulties centred on the elections in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa's most volatile province, where polling was manifestly neither free nor fair.
As evidence of a massive electoral fraud emerged, the largest parties were considering a carve-up of votes in the region.
Zach de Beer, the leader of the liberal Democratic Party, told the Independent a summit could take place today in Cape Town. Apart from Mr de Beer and Mr Mandela, other likely participants would be the National Party's F W de Klerk, the Inkatha leader, Mangosuthu Buthelezi, Constand Viljoen of the Freedom Front, and Clarence Makwetu of the Pan-Africanist Congress.
'I see no other way of proceeding to a resolution of the electoral problems,' Mr de Beer said. 'I've heard it said . . . that the IEC will take a month to provide an official, consolidated result. It could be that the only way out is for the leaders to sit around a table and say 'how many for you? How many for you?' '
The country's leaders feared the IEC would not be able to provide conclusive figures in time for the first sitting of parliament, due in Cape Town on Monday, and Tuesday's presidential inauguration in Pretoria. Mr de Beer would not say with whom he had discussed the summit idea, but the Independent has learnt one of them was Mr Mandela.
No one doubts Mr Mandela will be confirmed as president, even though by last night only two-thirds of the national results had been released and even those were described as 'provisional'. But the ANC was well clear of the field with 65.4 per cent, compared to the National Party's 20.3 per cent and Inkatha's 8.1 per cent.
The Inkatha Freedom Party led the count in KwaZulu-Natal with 57 per cent to the ANC's 28 per cent, but votes from urban areas where the ANC is expected to score well had not been made public.
Steve Collins, the deputy director of the IEC for KwaZulu- Natal, when asked yesterday whether the elections had been free and fair, replied: 'No . . . they have not been free and fair and they never would have been.' Mr Collins has received numerous reports from IEC officers around the province citing examples of electoral fraud.
Three reports have been obtained by the Independent. One, marked 'strictly confidential', was written by the head of the monitoring division of the IEC in the coastal town of Empangeni. It is dated 1 May, two days after polling closed, and recommended that, owing to 'gross irregularities', the IEC should 'seriously consider declaring this election null and void'.
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