The Week Ahead: Nats set out multiracial stall

SOUTH AFRICA'S ruling National Party holds a congress on Wednesday and Thursday in Johannesburg to launch its election manifesto and lists of candidates for the country's multiracial poll in April.

The party, reasonably united at the prospect of burying the apartheid system that it founded, is now wooing non-white voters in the townships.

Putting his show on the road, Nelson Mandela returns to his former prison at Paarl outside Cape Town on Wednesday with old prison comrades, including Walter Sisulu. They will lead a march and rally and Mr Mandela will light a 'flame of freedom'.

Three female prime ministers, Benazir Bhutto of Pakistan, Begum Khaleda Zia of Bangladesh and Tansu Ciller of Turkey visit Sarajevo on Wednesday to protest against the war and to call for an end to the UN arms embargo against Bosnia. The EC peace negotiators Lord Owen and Thorvald Stoltenberg visit Romania on Wednesday where they are expected to meet President Ion Iliescu and the Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu to talk about breaches of war sanctions along the Danube. The two may arrive in the midst of a Romanian government reshuffle, which is due between Tuesday and Saturday. If the reshuffle does not happen, the National Unity Bloc is expected to table a censure motion in parliament.

Finns vote in the second round of their presidential elections on Sunday, to decide between the Defence Minister, Elisabeth Rehn of the Swedish People's Party, and the Social Democratic career diplomat, Martti Ahtisaari.

A pair of legendary African leaders are laid to rest this week: the late president of the Ivory Coast Felix Houphouet-Boigny, whose body will lie in state from Wednesday in Abidjan, will be given a ceremony with full military honours on Saturday before his body is escorted to his home village of Yamoussoukro. He will be buried in a gold-domed basilica which has a marbled mausoleum and a moat for sacred crocodiles that are fed on live chickens.

There will be less pomp at the funeral of the veteran Kenyan opposition leader Jaramogi Oginga Odinga at his home in Nyamira on Saturday. Despite the urgings of supporters, he will have no state funeral, just a requiem mass in Nairobi's Uhuru park on Wednesday.

France asserts its cultural identity in an official song festival, which continues until Friday. It aims to combat the increasing popularity of Anglo-Saxon music and comes, one suspects, at least a generation too late.

Too soon for the smokers of San Francisco, the ban on smoking in the city's public workplaces starts tomorrow. Offenders will be charged dollars 250 ( pounds 166) for the first offence, dollars 350 for the second and dollars 800 for further offences.

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