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South African official predicts blacks will vote in 5 years

CAPE TOWN, South Africa - A top aide to President Frederik de Klerk said Tuesday that the South African government expected that the National Party, bastion of white supremacy for 40 years, was "unlikely" to remain in control of the government for much longer than the next five years. He predicted that toward the end of this period, the white House of Assembly would approve a new constitution based on universal suffrage. The remark was made by Gerrit Viljoen, minister for constitutional affairs. It represented the shortest time frame yet given by a senior South African official for a shift to a system in which the country's estimated 28-million blacks would vote along with the approximately 5-million whites, 3-million people of mixed race and 1-million South Africans of Asian descent.

Only last week, Viljoen stirred anger among white right-wingers by saying that he did not expect the National Party to be in sole control of the government in 10 years.

Asked for the Cabinet's timetable to build the "new South Africa" spoken of by de Klerk, Viljoen said: "I consider the recent election was the last general election in South Africa in which blacks did not participate. As I foresee progress, at the end of its present five-year term, the present Parliament should be in a position to give legislative approval to a new constitution, which obviously has to include the participation of blacks."

At another point, he said: "The new South Africa, with a constitution in which all South Africans participate, is unlikely to have the National Party in control of the government," although the party would "still play a meaningful role in the constitutional setup."

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