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World - Africa

South Africa prepares to vote

A child gets in the election spirit

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 ALSO:
Nelson Mandela bids farewell

 MESSAGE BOARD:
South Africa elections
 

Mandela appeals for nonviolent elections

June 1, 1999
Web posted at: 9:57 a.m. EDT (1357 GMT)

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (CNN) -- Exhausted from weeks on the campaign trail, politicians complied with a 24-hour ban on campaigning Tuesday, the day before South Africa's second national election since the end of apartheid.

Opinion polls show the winner of Wednesday's balloting is not in doubt. The ruling African National Congress (ANC) is expected to take as much as two-thirds of the vote, propelling Deputy President Thabo Mbeki to the presidency.

Mbeki would succeed prisoner-turned-statesman Nelson Mandela, who is retiring from political life and the post he won in South Africa's first all-race elections in 1994. Mbeki already has been named ANC president, succeeding Mandela.

Mandela, speaking Tuesday from his home province of Eastern Cape, urged South Africans to vote without the rampant violence and intimidation that surrounded the historic first vote.

"We don't want those people who think with their blood and who try to use violence against others," he said.

The Independent Electoral Commission has hired more than 200,000 teachers, civil servants and unemployed people to run the polling at nearly 15,000 voting stations. South Africa has 18.2 million registered voters.

Ballots will be cast for the 400-member National Assembly, which formally selects the president June 14, two days before Mandela plans to retire and the new president is inaugurated.

Battling for No. 2

The choice for those not already committed to the ANC promised to be a difficult one. Fifteen other parties -- none of which expected to pull more than 10 percent of Wednesday's vote -- were vying for seats in the Assembly and the position of the ANC's official opposition.

Some 15 percent of the country's voters told pollsters they still had not made up their minds.

The New National Party -- formerly the apartheid National Party -- and the liberal Democratic Party were the chief competitors for the Assembly's No. 2 spot. The Zulu-supported Inkatha Freedom Party, currently the legislature's third-largest party, was plunging out of favor.

The dark horse candidate appeared to be the fledgling United Democratic Movement. The party was forged from a union between ANC renegade Bantu Holomisa, former military ruler of the apartheid-era black Transkei homeland, and former National Party strategist Roelf Meyer.



RELATED STORIES:
South African parties make 11th-hour bid to woo voters
May 31, 1999
Mandela skips last Cabinet meeting before election
May 26, 1999

RELATED SITES:
Welcome to The Inkatha Freedom Party Website
African National Congress Home Page
Who 2: Nelson Mandela Profile
Gov ZA Index
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