State of emergency ends in South Africa's Natal

October 19, 1990|By Jerelyn Eddings | Jerelyn Eddings,Johannesburg Bureau of The Sun

PRETORIA,SOUTH AFRICA — PRETORIA, South Africa -- Insisting that the door to peaceful negotiations is now "fully open," President F. W. de Klerk declared an end yesterday to the state of emergency in Natal province, the last remaining region of South Africa where emergency regulations were still in effect.

"There is broad consensus that conditions in Natal have become stabilized to such an extent that the ordinary laws of the land are sufficient to enable the government to ensure the safety of the public," the president said.

In June, Mr. de Klerk lifted a 4-year-old state of emergency in South Africa's other three provinces. But he retained it in Natal because of ongoing violence between black political factions.

More than 4,000 people were killed since 1985 in the province, most of them Zulus aligned either with the African National Congress or with the Inkatha movement of Zulu leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi.

But in recent months, the factional fighting shifted to the Transvaal province, where almost 800 people died during a two-month period of bloodletting in black townships around Johannesburg.

Mr. Buthelezi welcomed the end of the state of emergency, which gave police extraordinary powers, and said it should "bring South Africa nearer to the negotiating table."

The ANC, the most influential anti-apartheid organization in South Africa, also hailed the move, a step it had demanded as part of the process required to clear the way for negotiations on a new constitution.

"We hope this will be extended to eradicate the remaining obstacles, in particular the release of all political prisoners and detainees and the repeal of all security legislation," it said in a statement in Johannesburg.

The government and the ANC are still working out details on the release of 3,000 political prisoners and the return of 20,000 political exiles.

Mr. de Klerk said his government had removed most of the impediments to multiparty talks on a new constitution. "There are no serious stumbling blocks in the way of negotiations," he said.

"There is only one route to peace and reconciliation in our country, and that is through peaceful negotiation," the president told reporters at a news conference in Pretoria."The door to this is now fully open."

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