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Monday, June 7, 1999 Published at 21:55 GMT 22:55 UK

World: Africa

Victorious ANC falls short

A jubilant Thabo Mbeki toasts the poll with Election Commission members

The ruling African National Congress has romped to victory in South Africa's second democratic election, taking 266 seats in the 400-seat National Assembly.

The final results of last Wednesday's general election leave the ANC just one seat short of its stated goal of a two-thirds majority - which would have given it the power to change elements of the constitution if it so desired.

[ image:  ]
Brigalia Bam, head of the Independent Electoral Commission, read out the final results to the heads of political parties after the count had been plagued by delayed reporting and mistakes in calculations.

The ANC has increased its representation by 14 seats.

The Democratic Party boosted its representation by an impressive 31 seats after only having seven MPs in the previous parliament.

The result makes the Democratic Party the official opposition in parliament.

Their result contrasts sharply with the fall from grace of the former ruling party, the New National Party, which lost 54 seats to leave itself with only 28 MPs.

South African Elections
A total of 13 parties have seats in the new parliament.

President Mandela's chosen successor, Deputy President Thabo Mbeki said afterwards: "Some parties had great ambitions to have two-thirds and so on, and the people have taken the decision.

"The centre has held in favour of democracy."

In the provinces, the ANC won a slight majority in the Western Cape over the New National Party. It remains uncertain whether the province will be governed by an ANC or National Party-led coalition.

Greg Barrow in Johannesburg: The Democratic party have done well at the expense of the old party of apartheid
A coalition also appears likely in KwaZulu-Natal after the Zulu nationalist Inkatha Freedom Party came out just ahead of the ANC.

The ruling ANC retains control of the other seven provinces.

South African financial markets strengthened on Monday after it became clear that the ANC would fall just short of the two-thirds majority.

Election blunder

As concern grows over the way the count was handled, a number of South African opposition parties have said they are launching an independent review of the election results.

Greg Barrow in Johannesburg: Opposition parties still wait on tenterhooks
A computer company hired by eight parties has been sifting through the results from 14,650 polling stations.

The move followed a typing error by the Electoral Commission that resulted in extra votes being awarded to the ANC and the Inkatha Freedom Party.

The error raised doubts about whether the Inkatha Freedom Party finished in second place, ahead of the mainly-white Democratic Party.

Nelson Mandela had phoned Inkatha's leader, Mangosutho Buthelezi, to congratulate him when the Inkatha gain was announced. Minutes later, Chief Buthelezi took a second call - from election officials telling him there had been an error, putting his party into third spot.

A spokesman for Inkatha expressed outrage and said they had been made to look like fools.

Smooth transition expected

At a victory rally, President-elect Thabo Mbeki called on ANC supporters and opponents to work together for the good of South Africa.

[ image:  ]
He said: "The ANC will approach the exercise of power without any arrogance, with humility, with a deep sense of responsibility, to ensure ... we act together to build a South Africa that truly belongs to all who live in it, both black and white."

President Mandela will step down at Mr Mbeki's expected inauguration on 16 June.

The changeover is widely expected to be smooth because Mr Mbeki, 56, has been running day-to-day government affairs for the past two years.

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