De Klerk raises doubts about 1-vote system

September 26, 1990|By Fernando Goncalves | Fernando Goncalves,Washington Bureau of The Sun

WASHINGTON -- South African President F. W. de Klerk, winding up his first state visit to the United States yesterday, repeated his reservation about a one-person-one-vote system and declared that the governing National Party will continue to be a major force in a post-apartheid South Africa.

Speaking at a luncheon at the National Press Club, Mr. de Klerk said he had come to the United States to convey his "commitment to negotiate a new constitution for South Africa."

He enumerated a number of goals that his government wants to achieve, including a "vote of equal value for all." But when asked to compare "a vote of equal value" to the concept of one-person-one-vote, he said the difference was "semantic," and compared his concept to the U.S. Senate, which he said was designed to protect smaller states from being dominated by larger ones.

The white minority government, while accepting the concept of multi-party democracy in a post-apartheid South Africa, has opposed a system of one-person-one-vote, saying that a new constitution should include provisions to protect the rights of the minority.

Mr. de Klerk said his proposal to open the National Party to all races "sent a signal that the National Party will continue to be a major force in the new South Africa."

Mr. de Klerk spent most of the day meeting with leaders of the Senate and House foreign relations committees, as well as House Majority Whip William H. Gray III, D-Pa., who visited South Africa earlier this year.

Mr. Gray said after yesterday's meeting that the changes that have taken place in South Africa since Mr. de Klerk came to power last September meet only some of the conditions established by U.S. law in 1986 for lifting sanctions.

"I believe our policy of sanctions should continue until a new constitution is enacted and the Group Areas Act [a pillar of apartheid] is removed," he said.

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