WORLD : Botha Loses Ruling Party’s Support

<i> From Times staff and wire service reports </i>

South Africa’s ruling white National Party today backed party leader F. W. de Klerk in his challenge to President P.W. Botha, setting up a threatened confrontation.

De Klerk told reporters after emergency meetings of the party’s supreme Federal Board and its 133-member caucus that the party wanted its leader to take over the presidency. Botha stepped down as party chief following a stroke in January but has vowed to stay on as state president for at least another year.