Wave of arrests strains SA talks

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The Independent Online
JOHANNESBURG (Reuter) - Police arrested at least 49 members of the radical Pan-Africanist Congress (PAC) and its guerrilla wing yesterday, plunging South Africa's democracy talks into a new crisis.

The PAC President, Clarence Makwethu, said his group would not take part in democracy talks while its members remained in jail. '(The arrests) show beyond doubt the regime is not sincere about talks . . . how can we talk in jail?' he said. But while calling for a suspension of yesterday's negotiations, the PAC stopped short of walking out of the talks completely.

The African National Congress (ANC) accused the government of a deliberate attempt to derail democracy talks at a brief negotiating session that was adjourned until tomorrow night.

The Law and Order Minister, Hernus Kriel, said seven leaders and 42 other members of the PAC and its armed wing, the Azanian People's Liberation Army, had been arrested in connection with incidents including murder and attempted murder.

The PAC Secretary-General, Benny Alexander, said police raided his home and he was placed in a police vehicle, but escaped when a neighbour opened the door while police were not paying attention. A police spokesman said Mr Alexander had been detained and released.

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