Jackson Criticizes Dukakis on South Africa, Mozambique
CLEVELAND (AP) _ Jesse Jackson stepped up his attack on Democratic front-runner Michael Dukakis Friday, accusing him of being either ignorant or wrong about issues involving southern Africa.
Specifically, Jackson complained that Dukakis had expressed opposition to providing weapons to Mozambique’s Marxist-led government for use against a rebel movement that is brutalizing the country.
Dukakis, he said, ″either has a lack of understanding about the options in the region or he supports a policy that’s inconsistent with the progressive and democratic thrust in the world.″
Leslie Dach, a Dukakis campaign aide, said that although Dukakis doesn’t support lethal aid for Mozambique he ″doesn’t rule out possibly down the road arming front-line states″ surrounding South Africa.
Jackson made the comments to reporters following a speech to about 2,500 students at Euclid High School, where he received a cordial reception but one that was less enthusiastic than he usually gets at schools.
He portrayed Dukakis as being to the right of President Reagan on Mozambique, stating that even conservative British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher sends arms to Mozambique. He said Reagan wanted to do so also but was thwarted by congressional conservatives.
The administration has been prohibited from giving military assistance to Mozambique for the past several years because of an amendment sponsored by Sen. Jesse Helms, R-N.C.
A U.S. official, asked about Reagan’s position, said he was unaware of any statement by the president in support of lethal assistance to Mozambique. The administration had proposed a small amount of non-lethal aid for Mozambique in fiscal 1985 but the request was not approved by Congress.
Throughout the campaign, Jackson has made attempts to bring southern Africa into the campaign debate, and he has been making a renewed and more intense push to do so as Dukakis’ lead in the delegate race has widened.
In the face of the growing likelihood that Dukakis will be the Democratic nominee, Jackson says he wants to delineate the distinctions between himself and the Massachusetts governor, while also trying to focus attention on issues he considers important.
The approach is in contrast to the posture Jackson maintained through most of the campaign in which he avoided singling out Democratic opponents for criticism.
Campaigning Friday in search of votes for Tuesday’s Ohio primary, Jackson also repeated his charge that Dukakis has no plan to reverse Reagan administration economic policies, but wants only ″to manage Reaganomics.″
He said Dukakis’ stance on Mozambique ″exposes a lack of understanding of foreign policy. ... The front line states (around South Africa) need to be able to defend themselves from South Africa.″
South Africa denies it supports the Mozambican rebel group, known as Renamo, but the State Department has said there is evidence to the contrary.
Jackson in recent days has called on Vice President George Bush, the likely Republican presidential nominee, and Dukakis to join him in calling for South Africa to be treated as a terrorist state because of its support for Renamo.
″It does not take much to class South Africa to be a terrorist state,″ he said. ″If one does, however, you must then trigger anti-terrorist policies. We must then put on full trade and arms embargoes against South Africa and engage our allies with whom we trade arms″ and insist they not sell arms to South Africa.
On Friday Jackson also addressed an outdoor rally under chilly, gray skies in downtown Cleveland. A few hundred people braved the wind and cold to attend.
At the predominantly white Euclid High School, Jackson’s usual crowd- rousing ″I am somebody″ chant drew halfhearted audience participation.
When the crowd weakly repeated the words after him, the candidate joked, ″You’re all so pitiful.″
Eventually he warmed them up by shouting, ″Euclid - No. one 3/8″ But afterward, student Maren Lueersen, 17, said she felt his presentation was ″too much like church,″ with the students being asked to recite chants and stand when he asked how many people knew someone who was killed or jailed because of drugs.