The Week Ahead: A new constitution is born

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The Independent Online
BY Friday, South Africa's multi- party negotiating process which has brought the country, with much kicking and screaming, out of the darkness of apartheid, will come to an end. The country's first democratic constitution will be finalised, preparing the way for the white parliament effectively to abolish itself later in the month. The so-called Freedom Alliance of right-wing whites and blacks will be deciding whether to go along with the constitution and the mechanism agreed for elections next year, or opt out, or go to war.

Conveniently, President F W de Klerk and Nelson Mandela will be presented with the Nobel Peace Prize in Stockholm on Wednesday.

Vice-President Al Gore and Ross Perot will argue the merits of the North American Free Trade Ag reement on the Larry King Live talk show for 90 minutes tomorrow night. The debate comes eight days before Congress is to vote on the treaty, with the results considered too close

to call.

President Bill Clinton has invested massive political capital into winning congressional approval of the treaty that would create a giant free-trade zone among the United States, Canada and Mexico. Mr Perot calls Nafta an abomination concocted by special interest groups that would cause Americans to lose countless jobs to Mexico and its cheap labour market.

Chris Patten arrives in London today to report to John Major and the Cabinet committee on Hong Kong on the progress of his plans to increase democracy in the colony in the 1994/5 election, the last before it is handed over to the Chinese. British ne gotiators are due to meet the Chinese again next week in Peking. On Wednesday Mr Patten and Mr Major will be the main speakers at the Institute of Directors conference on Hong Kong, where questions of the safety of capital investment will presumably loom larger than those of safeguarding political freedom.

President Fidel Ramos leaves the Philippines for the United States today. He will be trying to get relations with the US back on track after the Philippines closed down US military bases on its territory.

European Union foreign ministers meet in Brussels today and tomorrow, when they may well continue disagreements over the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.

King Juan Carlos of Spain, whose predecessors expelled the Jews five centuries ago, begins a historic visit to Israel today. Also today, Jordan holds its first multi-party elections since 1956.

Fifty years after David O Selznick's brother found the 'perfect' Scarlett O'Hara in Vivien Leigh, CBS will unveil their 'new' Scarlett today. CBS is making a television mini-series, based on Alexandra Ripley's sequel to Margaret Mitchell's book Gone With The Wind.

Yasser Arafat will visit the shrine of Our Lady of Fatima in central Portugal during a three-day visit beginning on Wednesday. He will be accompanied by his wife, Suha, who was brought up as a Christian.