Milestone In South Africa

The ruling white National Party's decision to share power with black groups through a Transitional Executive Council is a breakthrough in the long-stalled constitutional talks. It will likely lead the African National Congress, the largest black party, to call for a lifting of most sanctions against South Africa within a few weeks. Only the ineffective arms and oil embargoes are likely to be continued. The TEC, which will probably be installed by November, is intended to keep any group from using the police or other state institutions to influence the outcome of general elections now planned for Apr. 27, 1994. It will include representatives of each of the 20-plus parties negotiating a new constitution.

But jubilation is tempered by its rejection by important groups, including Mangosuthu Buthelezi's Inkatha Freedom Party, which governs the KwaZulu homeland, as well as the governments of the nominally independent Bophuthatswana and Ciskei homelands. Since 22% of South Africa's 39 million people reside in these areas, their continued resistance to the negotiating process and their increasing hostility to the ANC is becoming a serious threat to the transition to democratic rule. Right-wing white groups are also a troublesome, if lesser, problem.

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