Nelson Mandela called on President F.W. de Klerk Thursday
to establish an interim government this year that would oversee the dismantling of apartheid.The president of the African National Congress said de Klerk must capitalize on the mandate he won from white voters this week and move quickly to share power with the black majority.
"Our demand is that the interim government must be introduced this year and we think that is possible," Mandela told a press conference.
Whites voted 69 percent to 31 percent Tuesday to forge ahead with talks that will end white rule and give blacks voting rights for the first time in South Africa's history.
Support for de Klerk in the whites-only referendum exceeded all predictions.
The vote was the most solid step taken toward ending apartheid in South Africa, a nation branded for decades as an intractable stronghold of racism.
"Today, we have closed the book on apartheid," said de Klerk, who celebrated his 56th birthday Wednesday. "Today, in a certain sense of the word, is the real birthday of the real, new, South African nation."
Major issues still must be resolved between de Klerk and black leaders, and there is not likely to be a swift transfer of power.
"We sincerely hope, now that Mr. de Klerk has got an overwhelming endorsement for his role in the negotiations, that he will be able now to move with speed," Mandela said.
Mandela said an interim government was needed to ensure a swift and fair transition to a non-racial democracy.
"The purpose of the interim government will be to supervise the transition from an apartheid to a democratic state. We are demanding that that should be done as soon as possible."
Andries Treurnicht, leader of the pro-apartheid Conservative Party, conceded defeat with a warning to de Klerk that "he will be the victim of his own reform."
"Mr. de Klerk has won his referendum, just like Gorbachev won his. Gorbachev is today out of power . . . and Mr. de Klerk is negotiating his own government out of power," Treurnicht said.
Mandela urged Treurnicht and the right wing to take part in the talks on a new constitution.
South Africa referendum
"Do you support conituation of the reform process which the state president began on Feb. 2, 1990, and which is aimed at a new constitution through negotiation?"
South African white voters said
31% No 875,619
69% Yes 1,924,186