De Klerk warns of a crackdown on right-wing

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The Independent Online
F W DE KLERK warned yesterday that he was ready to crack down on the black and white right-wing should they attempt to disrupt South Africa's first democratic elections next year. The South African President said he would try first to accommodate their demands through negotiations and, if that failed, he would call for a referendum.

'After a referendum we would go ahead with elections and if people break the law we will act against them,' he said.

Likewise if the right took up arms against the coalition government that will come to power after the elections. 'The government of national unity would do what other governments do in similar circumstances: take firm steps.'

But 'first prize' remained bringing the right-wing Freedom Alliance - prominent among whom are the Inkatha Freedom Party and the separatist Afrikaner Volksfront - into the democratic process.

Mr de Klerk, speaking at a Foreign Correspondents' Association lunch in Pretoria, outlined what he - and Nelson Mandela's African National Congress - perceive to be the appropriate timetable to democracy:

Agreement within three weeks on a transitional consitution, a bill of rights and the principles within which the elected government would draw up a final constitution

The establishment of a Transitional Executive Council, a multi-party body whose task it would be to work with government to pave the way for free and fair elections

Elections on 27 April next year

A five-year coalition government with multi-party representation in cabinet

Among the matters that remained to be resolved in the next three weeks, Mr de Klerk said, were the composition and functions of the new government and the balance of power between central and regional government.

Daunting though the completion of these tasks will be in the available time, a greater problem is the refusal of the Freedom Alliance to accept the government-ANC formula. What the right-wingers demand is self-determination, which for Inkatha means virtual autonomy for Natal province and the adjoining KwaZulu 'homeland', and for the Volksfront an independent, sovereign state for Afrikaners.

'Given a reasonable approach from all sides,' Mr de Klerk said, it was possible to bridge the differences. The challenge, he explained, would be to satisfy the Alliance that the principle of self-determination could be accommodated within a federal system that provides for a significant devolution of powers.