South African President Frederik W. de Klerk said after a meeting with Zulu Chief Mangosuthu Gatsha Buthelezi on Saturday that he is more optimistic that free and fair elections can be held in the volatile Natal province next month.
The two men met as further killings scarred South Africa's Zulu heartland, torn by fighting between Buthelezi's Inkatha Freedom Party and its main black rival, the African National Congress.
Police and monitors said at least nine people, including two children, were killed in Natal and the KwaZulu black homeland Friday night and Saturday.
Asked if he was more optimistic about the prospects for South Africa's first all-race poll in the Natal region, De Klerk said, "Yes, although the challenges which we face on the ground are formidable."
About 15,000 people have died in violence in four years of apartheid reform, many of them in Natal.