Africa parties fail to list candidates

2 S.

March 10, 1994|By Michael Hill | Michael Hill,Johannesburg Bureau of The Sun

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa -- The two key potential holdouts in South Africa's electoral process failed to meet a deadline yesterday, and election organizers responded by saying that it wasn't a deadline at all.

All parties who had registered to participate in the April 26-28 election, the country's first nonracial vote, were supposed to submit at least a tentative list of candidates for the new National Assembly by yesterday afternoon.

Twenty six of the 29 parties signed up managed to do that. One minor party did not, along with two major ones, the Mangosuthu Buthelezi's Zulu-based Inkatha Freedom Party and the white right-wing Freedom Front.

"The deadline is a journalistic concept," Johan Kriegler, the judge who heads the Independent Election Commission, said after time had apparently run out. "We are not a traffic inspector trying to determine whether somebody has exceeded the speed limit. We are trying to organize an election of national reconciliation."

But Judge Kriegler's remarks came only a day after he told a group of reporters that yesterday's deadline was firm because of the logistical requirements of printing the 80 million ballots for the election.

Judge Kriegler did say at that meeting that it would be possible to remove a party from the ballot for a few days after yesterday's deadline, but not to add any, an indication that work is going ahead with ballots containing the names of the two holdouts.

After a meeting of its leadership, Inkatha announced that it would not submit a candidates' list until it knows more about the international mediation on its demands for additional regional powers in the new South African constitution.

An agreement between Mr. Buthelezi and Nelson Mandela of the African National Congress to seek such mediation led to Inkatha's last-minute sign-up for the elections last week. However, no details have been released on who the mediators will be, the questions they will deal with and when they will meet.

Representatives of the Freedom Front huddled with election commission officials yesterday afternoon, apparently waiting to see if Inkatha would submit its list before deciding their move.

The Freedom Front was registered just under last Friday's deadline by Constand Viljoen, the former head of the South African Defense Force, who has been one of the leaders of the right-wing effort to create a white Afrikaner homeland in the new South Africa.

Mr. Viljoen was castigated for the registration at a right-wing summit meeting Sunday that voted to boycott the election. But, joined by several Conservative Party members of the current Parliament, he decided to continue the registration process.

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