Angry De Klerk Meets With Mandela In Bid To Mend Political Rift

PRETORIA, South Africa - Deputy President F.W. de Klerk accused Nelson Mandela's African National Congress of bullying his National Party and met with the president today to discuss the future of their unity government.

The stock market fell yesterday on word that de Klerk had threatened to resign. De Klerk told reporters during a break in his meeting with Mandela that the two men had "made progress."

De Klerk, who was president of the former white-minority government, complained this week that the ANC was ignoring his party in Cabinet decisions and hinted his party might pull out of the government.

That would stall efforts to redress the discrimination of the apartheid era and attract foreign investment. The Johannesburg Stock Exchange fell 1.6 percent yesterday.

Mandela and de Klerk received the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize for guiding South Africa from apartheid to democracy. But their personal relations have often been rocky and based on mistrust.

De Klerk has received little publicity in recent months, and his threat to resign could be a bid to regain the spotlight.

He has been criticized within his party for taking a low-profile role since handing over power to the ANC after the nation's first all-race election in April.

The ANC won 62 percent of the vote. The National Party won 20 percent, giving it at least four Cabinet seats and a deputy presidency under a power-sharing formula worked out in years of negotiations.

De Klerk accused ANC ministers of insulting the National Party during a debate Wednesday over an amnesty granted by de Klerk's government to two former Cabinet ministers and 3,500 policemen just days before the April vote.

Mandela's Cabinet declared the amnesties invalid.

De Klerk said the ANC's members "tend more and more to become impatient and to adopt a bully attitude when they are opposed or questioned."

He also said he and his party were subjected to "an unfair, unjustified and to us totally unacceptable" attack during the Cabinet meeting.

"It was so serious that I felt myself obliged to inform the Cabinet that I would have to consider my position," he said.

Mandela denied there was a crisis.

"The government is on course and is very strong. We have differences here and there, but we have had differences right from the beginning," he said.