The Coetzee Plot: Curb special units, UK insists

THE disclosure of the plot in London is likely to have an explosive effect on the course of today's crucial meeting in New York of the Security Council, which will be attended by South Africa's main political leaders and which will consider any future international action over South Africa.

Britain, the closest to Pretoria among the Permanent Five on the Security Council, has already insisted privately to President F W de Klerk that he must use the information to crack down on the uncontrolled elements within the intelligence and special forces, who are blocking the road to reform. One informed source says John Major has hammered home this point to the President in an exchange of 17 faxes between Downing Street and Pretoria since the disclosure of the plot.

Nelson Mandela, the ANC president, had planned to ask the Security Council today to send a special envoy, possibly Cyrus Vance, to report on the political violence, and for UN monitors to be sent in after that. Britain, however, has been desperate to prevent any intervention by the UN or other bodies which President de Klerk does not want.

The meeting will also be attended by Pik Botha, South Africa's Foreign Minister; Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi, the Inkatha leader, and nine African foreign ministers. Britain has dissuaded the Africans from presenting a resolution condemning the South African government.

The British view is that Mr de Klerk has been effectively blackmailed into delaying reforms by elements in the special forces, who fear a 'Nuremberg' trial after a transition to black majority rule. The special forces form a self- armed, self-financing group after years of cover companies erected during the sanctions against South Africa. Mr de Klerk has been powerless to control them. It is now hoped the revelations may give him support in cracking down on the uncontrolled elements - who, apart from trying to eliminate former colleagues like Dirk Coetzee and others they regard as traitors, also instigate mayhem in the townships to put obstacles on the way to reform.

Mr Mandela said before flying to New York that the need for international intervention was an indictment of the government: 'It is regrettable that we as South African leaders should not be able to find a solution and should have to invite the international community to look into our problems.'

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