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Mandela Sends New Year’s Message

December 31, 1998

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AP) _ South African President Nelson Mandela on Thursday gave his final New Year’s message before leaving office next year, urging citizens to work together to solve problems left by apartheid.

Mandela, 80, will step down after national elections in 1999, when Deputy President Thabo Mbeki is expected to succeed him. The ruling African National Congress party is supported by most black voters.

``The New Year will bring many changes,″ Mandela said in the four-minute broadcast message. ``They will depend on our working together to realize our dream.″

A date has not yet been set for the 1999 election, expected to be held between May and July.

Mandela also sounded a warning that the election _ the country’s second democratic vote since 1994 _ should not divide the country.

``However robust the coming election campaign, we must emerge still more united,″ he said.

The message was prerecorded. Mandela is on holiday in Mozambique with his new wife, Graca Machel, who is Mozambican.

Leaders of other political parties painted more bleak pictures in their New Year’s messages.

The leader of the conservative white Freedom Front, General Constand Viljoen, accused the ANC of being obsessed with power and unable to curb crime and unemployment.

The liberal Democratic Party urged South Africans to vote in the coming election, while the National Party _ which created apartheid and ruled South Africa for more than 40 years _ urged citizens to unite against crime and poverty.

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