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World - Africa

ANC slides slightly in South African recount

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South Africa elections

Officials to announce final results Sunday

June 5, 1999
Web posted at: 1:02 p.m. EDT (1702 GMT)

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (CNN) -- The victorious African National Congress lost ground in an election recount Saturday, putting it in danger of losing the two-thirds majority in South Africa's parliament that would allow it to change the country's constitution.

With results in from 98 percent of polling stations Saturday, the ANC had fallen barely shy of a two-thirds majority with 66.14 percent of the vote.

The Democratic Party, founded as a white anti-apartheid party but now appealing to conservative whites, was in second place with 9.82 percent, followed by the Zulu-based Inkatha Freedom Party with 8.35 percent. The New National Party, which ruled during apartheid, received about 7 percent.

South Africa's Independent Electoral Commission says it will announce the final results Sunday.

Officials are recounting the votes in Wednesday's elections after discovering errors in the polling. About 270,000 people whose names were not on voter rolls had cast ballots, reported the Saturday Star newspaper.

To have the power to change the post-apartheid constitution, the ANC must win two-thirds of the country's 400 parliament seats. It was unclear Saturday whether the ANC would be able to win the 267 seats required, even if it gained a two-thirds majority in the election itself.

Parliamentary seats are allocated by a complex formula that takes into account voting at the national and provincial levels. Electoral officials said Saturday that the ANC may need up to 70 percent of the votes to win two-thirds of the assembly seats.

Still, with the ANC on the verge of winning a two-thirds majority in the elections, the "over-vote" issue is critical, said New National Party spokeswoman Juli Kilian. The party is considering filing a complaint with election officials.

The ANC insists it has no plans to try to overhaul the constitution or grab more power. President-elect Thabo Mbeki, who will succeed the retiring President Nelson Mandela on June 16, promised in his victory speech that the ANC would govern "without any arrogance."

Mbeki considers Cabinet appointments

Meanwhile, Mbeki, who has a reputation of surrounding himself with cronies, pondered his Cabinet choices Saturday.

The new president will be closely watched as he appoints his aides later this month. Some have speculated that Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, who campaigned hard for the ANC, would be rewarded with at least a deputy Cabinet post. She is outgoing President Nelson Mandela's ex-wife.

Three days after South Africans queued up in mile-long lines to vote, volunteers were removing thousands of campaign posters from city streets this weekend. Shantytown residents grabbed those mounted on cardboard to patch up their houses.

Praise rolled in from abroad on the peaceful election, only the second time in South Africa's history that people of all races could vote.

In a message from New York, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan commended South Africans for "helping to consolidate the historic, democratic and nonracial elections of 1994, which were pivotal to the transformation of South Africa into a democratic society."

Johannesburg Bureau Chief Charlayne Hunter-Gault andReuters contributed to this report.



RELATED STORIES:
South Africa's ruling party heads to two-thirds victory
June 3, 1999
Voting period ends in South Africa's 2nd all-race election
June 2, 1999
South Africa prepares to vote
June 1, 1999
South African parties make 11th-hour bid to woo voters
May 31, 1999
Nelson Mandela bids farewell
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Mandela skips last Cabinet meeting before election
May 26, 1999

RELATED SITES:
South Africa Government Online (Gov ZA Index)
African National Congress Home Page
Democratic Party of South Africa
The Inkatha Freedom Party Website
The New National Party
Nelson Mandela Profile
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