Rival S. African groups agree on conference

October 27, 1991|By New York Times News Service

DURBAN, South Africa -- In an agreement likely to hasten the start of talks on South Africa's future, the country's two most prominent black resistance movements announced yesterday that they had reached a consensus on negotiating with the white-minority government.

The African National Congress and the Pan-Africanist Congress, smaller rival, said they had agreed that a conference of all political parties should be held as soon as possible to work out methods for the transfer of power to the country's black majority.

The two groups agreed that delegates to the conference should discuss principles of a new constitution, the election of an assembly to draft the constitution, an interim government and a schedule for a prompt transfer to black rule.

The Pan-Africanist Congress had previously said that it would not talk to the government before a constituent assembly was formed. Yesterday, in yielding on that position, it gave tacit endorsement to most conditions being circulated here by the ANC at a meeting of many anti-apartheid organizations.

The government has endorsed the proposed conference. After meeting with officials earlier this week, the ANC predicted that the conference could be held before the end of November.

President F. W. de Klerk has said that his government will not step aside for an interim administration, arguing that negotiations must precede transitional arrangements.

With yesterday's accord, the Pretoria authorities -- who have benefited from dissension among their opponents -- can now expect more concerted pressure.

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