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1965: Slow progress at Rhodesia talks
Prime Minister Harold Wilson appears to have made little headway in a final effort to persuade Rhodesian leader Ian Smith to drop his plans for independence.

Rhodesian officials say they have rejected a British plan for a Royal Commission to draw up a new constitution acceptable to the whole population.

Instead, they are proposing a joint Royal Commission - with two Rhodesian and one British nominee - to look at ways of altering the exisiting constitution.

At the end of the day, Mr Wilson was also banned from making a live appeal on television to the Rhodesian people against Mr Smith's plans for a Unilateral Declaration of Independence or UDI.

Dire consequences

British authorities are only prepared to permit independence on the basis of giving the black majority population a fair share of power.

At the last election in May only 11,000 out of a total of four million black Rhodesians were entitled to vote.

Relations between the two leaders appear to have deteriorated since Mr Wilson arrived in Rhodesia.

Mr Smith today described as "incredible" any threat of economic sanctions.

He interrupted a meeting of Cabinet in Salisbury to issue a statement denying any "breakdown" of the talks.

He continued: "Let it be clearly understood that Mr Wilson has levelled no threats whatsoever to me or to my Cabinet at any time in the past week."

Reports yesterday suggested the British Prime Minister had warned of dire consequences to the Rhodesian economy if Mr Smith went ahead with UDI.

Mr Wilson also said the rest of the world would not be prepared to see neighbouring Zambia 'sink' as a result of any retaliatory action from Rhodesia if she supported sanctions against Rhodesia.

Zambia (formerly northern Rhodesia) is seen as highly vulnerable. Rhodesia could choose to shut off the railway line carrying Zambian copper to the outside world. It could also cut off coal and electricity supplies.

It is understood Mr Wilson will now hold a brief news conference in the morning before flying on to Zambia.

He will leave behind Commonwealth Secretary Arthur Bottomley and Attorney General Sir Elwyn Jones to keep talks with the Rhodesian government going.

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Scene inside polling station
In the May election, only 11,000 out of four million black Rhodesians were allowed to vote



In Context
Mr Wilson told a news conference the following day the proposed Royal Commission gave Rhodesia no excuse for a unilateral declaration of independence.

However, Mr Smith went ahead with UDI on 11 November.

Mr Smith's system meant the minority white population of 220,000 Rhodesians would govern the majority black population of nearly four million.

The regime was kept afloat by trade with South Africa and Portugal, which refused to join sanctions against Rhodesia.

Eventually the combined opposition forces of Joshua Nkomo's Zapu (Zimbabwe African Peoples' Union) and Robert Mugabe's Zanu (Zimbabwe African National Union) parties brought an end to white rule in June 1979 and Rhodesia was renamed Zimbabwe .

Zimbabwe's first multi-party elections in March 1980 saw Robert Mugabe chosen as the first black prime minister.

Ian Smith died in a South African residential home in November 2007.

Stories From 29 Oct


 
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