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ANC Leaders Slam De Klerk’s Rotating Presidency Plan

April 24, 1992

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AP) _ ANC leaders today rejected a proposal by President F.W. de Klerk that would clear the way for South Africa’s first black head of state, but preserve some white influence.

The influential African National Congress Youth League said the plan de Klerk proposed Thursday was designed to perpetuate white power and delay true democracy. The plan was unacceptable because the government would oversee elections for the interim government, it said.

″The impression that ... the proposals are a step forward, must be rejected with the contempt it deserves,″ the group said in a statement.

Allan Boesak, a senior ANC leader, said there must be elections leading to a majority government. ″It’s totally unacceptable,″ he said of the white government’s plan.

De Klerk called Thursday for multiracial elections for an interim government. The presidency would rotate among the country’s main political leaders.

ANC officials said they would not formally respond to de Klerk’s plan until Saturday. The ANC, often criticized for being inefficient, can take days to respond to major political developments.

The comments from the youth wing and from Boesak were taken as an indication of the ANC stance. The ANC, the main black political group which is led by Nelson Mandela, has traditionally opposed calls for a coalition government like the one de Klerk proposed.

Saying the plan contains ″the backbone of democracy,″ de Klerk provided the greatest detail yet on how he envisions moving from white domination to power-sharing with the black majority.

He told Parliament each political party would be able to nominate one candidate for a ruling Executive Council.

The top three to five vote-getters in national elections would sit on the council, with the chairman serving as state president. Chairmanship would rotate every six months, de Klerk said.

De Klerk did not say how long the Executive Council would rule, but in the past has said an interim leadership could be in power several years.

A multiracial election would give the black majority the vote for the first time and guarantee popular black leaders such as Mandela a seat on the council and thus a turn at the presidency. White leaders also would have presidential terms.

The ANC, the main black political group, has traditionally opposed calls for a coalition government, saying a party that wins a majority should rule by itself.

The ANC and several other political groups negotiating with the government must agree before any transitional plan can go forward. Leading black and white parties also have been working on a new constitution and plan to hold a progress report next month.

De Klerk did not give a time frame for his proposal but has said an interim government should be installed within a few months.

The ANC also wants an interim government, but envisions it ruling only long enough to oversee elections for an assembly to draft a new constitution.

De Klerk also repeated plans for an elected two-chamber Parliament that would give blacks representation for the first time. The ANC has rejected the plan because it would effectively give whites and other minorities veto powers.

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