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Pretoria's long march to the end of an era: The following is a chronology of the main events highlighting the rise and fall of apartheid in South Africa

SOUTH AFRICA'S negotiators yesterday set 27 April 1994 as the target date for the first all-race elections. Here are some of the important milestones along the long road to democracy:

1948 - National Party elected pledging separate development.

1950 - Government adopts key laws underpinning apartheid.

1960 - Police kill 69 people during anti-apartheid protests at Sharpeville. African National Congress (ANC) and Pan-Africanist Congress (PAC) banned.

1961 - South Africa declared republic, leaves Commonwealth. Underground ANC launches guerrilla campaign.

1964 - Nelson Mandela and senior ANC associates sentenced to life in prison for resisting white rule.

1976 - More than 600 blacks die in year-long black uprising triggered by Soweto pupil protests on 16 June.

1983 - South Africa adopts new constitution giving limited parliamentary powers to Indian and mixed-race voters.

1984 - Power struggle erupts in Natal province between ANC and Zulu-based Inkatha Freedom Party. Country-wide political violence claims more than 15,000 lives by June 1993.

1985 - Government imposes partial emergency rule to quell black uprising. Foreign investors start disinvestment drive.

1986 - Full emergency rule declared. US Congress passes comprehensive sanctions against Pretoria and many other Western governments follow suit.

1990: 2 Feb - F W de Klerk, who replaced P W Botha as President in 1989, repudiates apartheid, legalises about 30 prohibited political groups, including ANC.

11 Feb - Mandela released from prison.

May - ANC and government meet for first time, agree to remove obstacles to negotiation: release of political prisoners, indemnity of political exiles, joint commitment to end violence in townships.

August - ANC agrees to suspend 30-year-old armed struggle.

1991: 5 June - Parliament repeals residential segregation and laws that reserve 87 per cent of land for 14 per cent white minority.

17 June - Parliament drops mandatory race classification.

Sept - Anti-apartheid movements and government sign peace accord.

20 Dec - Power-sharing talks between government and 16 anti-apartheid groups, named Convention for a Democratic South Africa (Codesa), open.

1992: 18 March - De Klerk wins 70 per cent in referendum to test support among 3.3 million white voters for reforms.

23 June - ANC and 10 allies break off bilateral talks and Codesa negotiations in protest against 17 June massacre of at least 39 blacks at Boipatong township. ANC blames Inkatha.

26 Sept - De Klerk and Mandela meet to break deadlock over negotiations after Ciskei troops kill 28 ANC supporters, sign 'record of understanding'.

27 Sept - Inkatha quits democracy talks, accusing government and ANC of seeking to marginalise Zulu nation.

1993: 5 March - Multi-party talks resume with 26 political groups, including pro-apartheid Conservative Party and radical PAC.

25 March - Government moves to desegregate education, last remaining social cornerstone of apartheid.

29 April - De Klerk apologises for apartheid.

7 May - Main political groups agree to hold all-race elections by end of April 1994. Right-wing whites form united front to campaign for Afrikaner autonomy.

2 July - Democracy negotiators agree on 27 April 1994, as date for first all-race elections.