Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

S. Africa Endorses Black Role Rightist Lawmakers Warn of Civil War

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

S. Africa Endorses Black Role Rightist Lawmakers Warn of Civil War

Article excerpt

Parliament voted Thursday to allow blacks a role in governing South Africa for the first time. White right-wing lawmakers angrily warned that the decision could lead to civil war.

The vote creates a Transitional Executive Council, comprised of representatives from the 26 black and white parties that have been taking part in the talks on ending apartheid. The council will help oversee the holding of South Africa's first multiracial election April 27.

The dominant white chamber of Parliament, led by President F.W. de Klerk's National Party, voted 107-36 to create the council, which was agreed on earlier this month at talks among the 26 white and black groups.

Ferdi Hartzenberg, leader of the pro-apartheid white Conservative Party, said after the vote: "This makes permanent peace impossible. We have lost a golden opportunity for peace." He then led his followers in walking out of Parliament.

He vowed at a news conference later that Afrikaners would defy the council and would set up an alternative government. "We are not a violent people. We will follow peaceful ways as far as possible, but we reserve the right to fight."

Thirty-one Conservatives, three independents and two white Inkatha lawmakers voted against the bill.

Three days of discussions on the bill became a bitter battle among white Afrikaners - laden with implied threats of secession and civil war - over the future of the nation ruled throughout its history by its white minority.

Cries of "Traitor!" punctuated debate Wednesday, and scores of police ringed the Parliament building Thursday in case of right-wing disruptions. But the vote was taken peacefully.

Supporters said that granting power to the black majority was the only way to quell the violence and economic decline that have wracked South Africa.

Hartzenberg, whose party calls for the creation of an autonomous white Afrikaner state, said the Conservatives would continue to resist with a campaign of public pressure. He refused to rule out an eventual "declaration of independence."

The Indian and mixed-race chambers of Parliament approved the bill with no dissent.

But several parties, including the Conservative Party and the mostly black Inkatha Freedom Party, said they would boycott the council. …

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