South African Election Guide: Road from Sharpeville to sanity

1948: National Party elected on apartheid ticket

1960 March: police kill 69 anti- apartheid protestors in Sharpeville

October: South Africa leaves Commonwealth

1961: ANC launches armed struggle under Mandela

1964: Mandela, Sisulu and other ANC associates sentenced to life in prison

1976: More than 600 blacks die in year-long unrest triggered by Soweto schoolchildren's uprising

1984: ANC-Inkatha power-struggle erupts in Natal, leading to 20,000 deaths by April 1994

1986: Nationwide state of emergency declared

1990 2 February: President de Klerk legalises ANC

11 February: Mandela released

May: ANC and government meet formally for first time to remove obstacles to talks, such as release of political prisoners

August: ANC suspends armed struggle

1991 June: parliament repeals residential segregation and race-classification laws

December: multi-party constitutional negotiations begin

1992 March: 68.7 per cent of white voters opt for political reform in national referendum

June: ANC breaks off talks with government following massacre of 42 in Boipatong township by Inkatha supporters 'and police'

September: Mandela and De Klerk meet to break deadlock and sign 'record of understanding', clearing way for resumption of constitutional talks

1993 May: multi-party Negotiating Council agrees to hold elections by end April 1994

November: Negotiating Council adopts South Africa's first democratic constitution

December: parliament approves new constitution, killing off apartheid

1994 March: white gunmen routed by Bophuthatswana army, precipitating decision of Afrikaner Volksfront leader, Constand Viljoen, to drop resistance option and take part in the elections

19 April: Buthelezi announces Inkatha participation in elections.

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