Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Slow Counting Delays Mandela's Ascension

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Slow Counting Delays Mandela's Ascension

Article excerpt

Nelson Mandela's African National Congress must wait until Monday to take power because ballot counting is taking so long.

Even though the winner has claimed victory and the losers have conceded, almost half the votes remain to be counted in South Africa's first all-race election.

The 400-member National Assembly, the main chamber of the new Parliament, now will meet in Cape Town on Monday rather than Friday. Its first task will be to formally elect Mandela as South Africa's first black president. His inauguration is planned for the next day in Pretoria.

Mandela and the man he will soon replace, President F.W. de Klerk, met Tuesday to discuss who will be in the Cabinet their parties will dominate. De Klerk has said he wants the Cabinet chosen and sworn in the same day as the president. But that is not required - and is unlikely.

Because of the slow vote counting, provincial legislatures will not meet until Saturday, instead of Thursday. The legislatures elect the members of the new national Senate.

The Transitional Executive Council announced the date changes Tuesday. The council has been overseeing the governing of the country. Dries van Heerden, a council spokesman, said, "The only date that seems cast in stone is the inauguration on Tuesday, because of the invited guests."

The tentative guest list includes the presidents of Israel and China, perhaps Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Britain's Prince Philip.

By Tuesday evening, with 53 percent of the approximately 22.7 million votes counted, the African National Congress had 62.5 percent to the National Party's 22.1 percent. Mangosuthu Buthelezi's Zulu-based Inkatha Freedom Party had 8.3 percent, above the threshold of 5 percent for a Cabinet seat. The Freedom Front, which demands a separate white homeland, had 2.7 percent.

The Independent Electoral Commission suspended further reporting while experts speeded up the tally process, said Pieter Cronje, a commission spokesman.

Other small parties with enough votes for a few seats in Parliament were the white, liberal Democratic Party; the black nationalist Pan-Africanist Congress; and the new African Christian Democratic Party. …

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