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ANC Shifts Agenda Away From Government Toward Demands of Its Militant Supporters

THE African National Congress has moved closer to an arch rival in a move that could promote black unity but delay negotiations with the government over a new constitution. At a landmark meeting in Harare, Zimbabwe, this week, top-level delegations of the ANC and the militant Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) jointly demanded that an elected constituent assembly draft a new constitution.

A joint statement rejected the government idea of a multiparty conference and stressed the need to maintain sanctions.

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"The ANC is shifting away from a Western agenda to a more Africanist one palatable to its militant rank and file," says a Western diplomat. "This should contain a clear message for [President Frederik] de Klerk: The honeymoon with the ANC is over."

The Pretoria government has rejected the constituent assembly idea, favoring a conference of parties with "proven support" that could serve as an interim administration and, eventually, draw up a new constitution.

A joint ANC-PAC statement said talks about the demand for a constituent assembly should be held only once conditions laid down in a United Nations General Assembly resolution in December 1989 had been met. The conditions are similar to the five spelled out in the United States Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act of 1986.

The delegations also agreed on a conference of anti-apartheid groups to be held in August. This means round-table talks including the government are unlikely before September or October.

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