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Unified Effort Urged Against Apartheid

April 19, 1985

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., urged colleagues Thursday to take the lead in fashioning a unified effort to persuade South Africa to abandon its system of racial separation.

In a speech on the Senate floor, the freshman lawmaker described the apartheid system as ″one of the most abhorrent and criminal examples of injustice evident in the world.″

And he declared that President Reagan’s ″constructive engagement″ policy intended to bring quiet pressure to bear on the white-run South African government is a failure that has left the lot of South Africa’s majority black population unchanged.

McConnell said he will soon introduce compromise legislation intended to spell out a middle-ground approach between constructive engagement and punitive economic sanction plans being introduced by Senate and House liberals.

He faulted Reagan administration policy for placing too much emphasis on the presence of Cuban troops in Angola, South Africa’s neighbor to the north, and failing to focus adequately on ″the bare, grim facts of life for most South Africans.″

″I am convinced thet the greatest threat to security and stability is not posed by the Cubans or Soviets, but by the injustices of apartheid,″ McConnell said.

He said 242 people have been killed in racial violence in South Africa in the last two years and that 16 members of the United Democratic Front who sought non-violent change have been jailed on charges of treason.

″A policy that allows this to continue uncorrected, as the administration’s has, is a policy that has failed,″ McConnell said.

On the other hand, he said he is skeptical about the prospects of success of alternatives that rely heavily on economic sanctions and which he said appear to be ″all stick and no carrot.″

″Sanctions against an entire nation will not compel the few who control South Africa to lift the burdens of apartheid,″ McConnell said. ″Unrestricted sanctions will punish all for the sins of a few.″

But he said the government must demonstrate that the United States has the will to bring ″all necessary pressure to bear to effect change.″

″We must rise to this challenge and act to change the course of South Africa’s tragic history,″ McConnell said.

″Conservatives and liberals, Republicans and Democrats can and should act in unison,″ he said. ″And we should act now.″

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