Facebook Twitter

COMMONWEALTH DEBATES MORE SANCTIONS AGAINST S. AFRICA

SHARE COMMONWEALTH DEBATES MORE SANCTIONS AGAINST S. AFRICA

Australia Thursday put forward a plan calling for intensified financial pressure on South Africa, and Zambia denounced international banks as "bloodsuckers" for rescheduling South African debt.

Prime Minister Bob Hawke of Australia said Commonwealth leaders were "disappointed" at the agreement by foreign banks to reschedule $8 billion of South Africa's $40 billion debt.News of the bank deal came as leaders of the 49-nation Commonwealth met in closed session to debate sanctions against South Africa, which quit the Commonwealth in 1961.

Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher of Britain, the sole opponent of sanctions in the association of Britain and its former colonies, insists embargoes now would be irresponsible.

Australia's five-point plan called on international banks to toughen lending conditions for South Africa, including limiting maxium credit terms to 90 days.

It also calls for setting up a monitoring agency to scrutinize South Africa's links with the international financial community.

President Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia, at a news conference on the second day of the biennial summit, said bloodshed threatened to engulf southern Africa.

"Bankers are sucking at that blood by supporting South Africa. They are bloodsuckers," he said.

Commonwealth leaders, apart from Thatcher, had planned to launch a new drive to try to stymie South Africa's efforts to reschedule the $8 billion of its foreign debt that is due next June.

On Wednesday, Canadian officials said a three-nation Commonwealth team of representatives from Canada, Australia and India has been lobbying major international banks and received what he called a "favorable response."

But within hours, the South African Reserve Bank announced it has reached a deal with the creditors, mostly American and European banks.

On Wednesday Thatcher, arguing that South African President F.W. de Klerk deserves encouragement, urged the Commonwealth not to rebuff "the most helpful sign for many years that progress was possible."

She cited de Klerk's release this week of eight black nationalist leaders, relaxation of restrictions on anti-government demonstrations and his "willingness to consult all shades of opinion."

Canada proposes maintaining existing sanctions but holding off on new ones for six months as a challenge to de Klerk to get the white-dominated Parliament to abolish race laws by then.

The laws include regulations that deny the black majority the vote and segregate residential areas and health services.