The African National Congress offered Sunday to let pro-apartheid whites vote for their own homeland--but said a black government would retain power to veto the results.
ANC President Nelson Mandela appealed to militant whites to accept the offer and avert bloodshed.
But the right-wing Afrikaner Volksfront angrily rejected the proposal and vowed to establish its own homeland by force if necessary to avoid living under black rule.
That militant stance could be fatal, Mandela told a crowd of several thousand squeezed into a stadium in the black township of Khuma.
“We know how to fight,” he said, referring to the ANC’s 30-year guerrilla war, suspended in August, 1990, after the white government introduced reforms to end apartheid.
Under the ANC proposal, whites could vote April 27 on whether to establish a whites-only homeland. The ballot would be separate from national elections April 27-29 for a new, multiracial government.
The newly elected government would have final say on the homeland issue, a condition unacceptable to white extremists.
“I want to appeal to the right wing not to do anything that would drag our country into a conflict that would kill many innocent people, black and white,” Mandela said. “We are appealing to the right wing not to talk about violence so easily. We know what war means.”